The Golden Age

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Kerosene Hat, Cracker's second album, was an unexpected hit because of its off-kilter charm. Though Cracker rocked hard throughout the record, they also threw in fractured pop and country tunes that gave the album a broader appeal. The band's follow-up album, The Golden Age, tries to expand on that appeal by burying the weirdness inherent in David Lowery's songwriting with loud, grungy guitars and a more streamlined production. The change is evident from the record's leadoff track, "I Hate My Generation." With its pounding rhythms and grunge-drenched guitars, it may have been intended as a parody of '90s Generation-X angst, but the riffs and melodies are so slight that it fails embarrassingly. In fact, most of the louder numbers on The Golden Age are forced and underdeveloped. What saves the record is when Cracker turn the volume down, whether it's the country rock of the title track, the goofy pop of "How Can I Live Without You," or the dusty psychedelia of "Bicycle Spaniard." Once you dig past the surface of the loud guitars, it becomes apparent that there's an abundance of quiet gems scattered throughout The Golden Age, and that is what makes the album worthwhile listening.

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