Picks and Pans Review: Cracker
Cracker is to rock and roll what animal crackers are to fine dining. Neither offers much elegance or nutrition, but both are fun to nibble.
While this is Cracker's first barrel o' tunes, lead singer-songwriter David Lowery comes direct from another oddball group, Camper Van Beethoven. He has brought with him not only his strained, slightly off-key vocals but that band's irreverent altitude.
Less than a minute into the first song, "Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)," you get a pretty good idea of the wonderful weirdness going on. Jangly, countryish guitar meets a rock backbeat, accompanied by Lowery bleatingly admitting that "what the world needs now is another folk singer like I need a hole in my head." Next they roll in an up-tempo folkie number, "Happy Birthday to Me," followed by the funky bop of "This Is Cracker Soul."
Is Cracker a folk record? Is it a rock record? Is it a country record? Lowery and company don't let themselves get pinned down, probably because they don't know the answer. It almost seems like the band made up the songs as they went along, which may not make for perfectly polished music but does give the disc a refreshing spontaneity.
All that matters here, apparently, is that no song takes itself too seriously. How else can you explain a ballad called "Can I Take My Gun to Heaven?" This is one Cracker made of nothing but wry. (Virgin)
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