There comes a time in every bro's life when it's time to grow up and stop heading down south for Spring Break. For Luke Bryan, that time came in 2015. That was the year he released Spring Break... Checkin' Out, his seventh seasonal EP celebrating sand, sun, brews, and bikinis. Checkin' Out! came in two variations: one that contains the EP's five new songs, another that mixes the new tunes up with 2014's Spring Break 6... Like We Ain't Ever, pumping up to the size of a standard album and making a better bargain for the buck. Sonically, the songs from the sixth and seventh EPs intertwine nicely -- it's all bright and cheerful, sounding warm and open-hearted even in the shadow of the production's excessive gleam -- but, appropriately enough, all the new songs find Bryan looking back over his shoulder at all the fun he's had over the years. Even when the songs get a little funky, as they do on the descending blues riff of the title track, there's a slight melancholic tinge, as Bryan acknowledges this is the last time he'll be doing this. He addresses his curtain call on "Spring Breakdown" -- a song that begins with "It's been a real good run/Playing out here in the sun, year after year/Beer after beer/I've watched this crowd grow/I swear y'all don't know/What you mean to me," sounding exactly like the concert closer it's designed to be -- and passing years are also evident on "My Ol' Bronco," an ode to a car that's just a few years shy of Bryan's age. Maybe that's why the main edition of Checkin' Out is the one that blends these lightly melancholic tunes with the party anthems of Like We Ain't Ever, as those are the ones that keep the good times rolling. Nevertheless, it's those five songs that provide a nice farewell to Bryan's time as the ringleader of Spring Break, and it's good to see that he's chosen to bring this era to a tidy close instead of letting it slip into memory.
Spring Break... Checkin' Out Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine