Divine Providence (Partisan Records)
You've been warned. There's a song on the new Deer Tick album called "Let's All Go to the Bar," and it sounds exactly like the title, only worse: the Ramones, but a bit less musical and with even less to say (see: "I don't care if you puke in my ride/Baby, just as long you take the piss outside"). And Divine Providence, this Rhode Island quintet's fourth full-length, is jam-packed with this similar bouts of chronic stupidity. On the thumping lead-off "The Bump," vocalist John McCauley rips off Iggy Pop, begs anyone in earshot for prescription drugs, and mindlessly offers to "take a tree and tear it from its roots." (I think I'll pass there, Paul Bunyan.) "Funny Word," meanwhile, irreverently kicks off with the unnecessary aside, "You f--kin' douchebag"—I guess only to flaunt, like a gang of detention-bound 13-year-olds, their own translucent "manliness." Certainly there's a place in the great halls of rock for Big Dumb Fun. But Deer Tick's variety is depressingly stupid—Andrew W.K. sounds like a wise revolutionary by comparison.
Hopefully that opening triple-attack-of-terrible won't scare you away for good—stick around long enough, and you'll uncover a few modest gems. "Clownin' Around" is a folky stunner built on intricate harmonies, a lonely organ, and appropriately drunken percussion—they even tuck away a weird little Elephant 6-styled outro for good measure. "Main Street," a muscular ode about loneliness in the big city, sounds like a top-notch Spoon B-side. But these flashes of clarity are the exception, rather than the rule. "Make my first million from a gas station scratch-off machine," McCauley blurts at some point or another amid the murky testosterone. My advice: Keep that scratchin' hand limber.