While the Old 97’s have been around since, well, before 1997, their audacity to sing about whatever madness is going on in their heads to the extent that they did in their latest album, Graveyard Whistling, is recent. Along with their filter, much of their old country-rock style is abandoned. Instead, the emphasis is put on the country side of their music. The first four songs of the album give off a primarily country vibe- and not a very typical one. The Old 97’s are no Tim McGraw, nor do they try to be. Their southern accents don’t show through as much, and they use an electric guitar; the Old 97’s simply do not represent typical country music. But if they ditched their old rock-vibe and they’re not quite pulling off the whole country thing, what exactly does this album have?
It’s this crazy little thing called style, and we’re obsessed with it. We don’t care who you are, as long as you have character and you “know” what you are. The Old 97’s litter their album with sarcasm, trashing God and the women in their life in the most inconspicuous ways. Songs like “Jesus Loves You” and “Good with God” look from a distance to be worship songs, another drastic change of style for the Old 97’s. They shortly prove to be, (by the second line of the song, incase you were worried), however, classic Old 97’s songs when Rhett Miller retorts, “well you can talk to him all night, but I’m right here,” mocking a woman for choosing to follow Jesus, rather than following him home.
Catchy tunes are at times ruined by an overly stressed “hell yeah” attitude that burns away any feelings of happiness. The leverage over other bands that the Old 97 had was their element of rock in their country music, which was discontentedly left out of this album. Instead, the rock wall fell down to reveal a skinny boy in his underwear with overly long hair, strumming his guitar and trying to seduce women. In songs like “Turns Out I’m Trouble, Miller” even owns up to it. There’s a fine line between sarcasm and flat out being asshole, and the scales were tipsy throughout Graveyard Whistling. Hopefully, the explanation for it is that he was, as well.