The Zutons

You Can Do Anything

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Ah, the difficult third album. Supposedly written and recorded after an extended period of writer's block on the part of leader Dave McCabe, the band's first album after the somewhat acrimonious departure of lead guitarist Boyan Chowdhury, and even more worryingly produced in Los Angeles by the seemingly incompatible American hard rock producer George Drakoulias, You Can Do Anything had all the potential to be something of a train wreck. Instead, the Liverpool quintet (by then including new lead guitarist Paul Molloy) pulled themselves together to, somewhat unexpectedly, deliver the most concise, consistent, and commercial album they've made so far. You Can Do Anything isn't a commercial capitulation or dumbing down of the band's eclectic mix of influences (everything from Madness to Funkadelic to Captain Beefheart, seemingly), so much as it is a fusion of all those different strands into a more coherent whole. Indeed, songs like the sardonic but respectful portrait of dysfunction "Family of Leeches" and the sneering put-down "Bumbag" help cement McCabe's reputation as a sly, cutting lyricist. The unexpectedly lovely "Don't Get Caught," sounding almost like Holland-era Beach Boys in a country-fried mood, is a particular gem, as is the excellent first single "Always Right Behind You," which recalls the early, spunky Steely Dan à la "Reelin' in the Years." At a time when labelmates (and, in the minds of the U.K. music press, rivals) the Coral are seemingly at a bit of a musical crossroads, the Zutons have made the album that delivers on their early promise.

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