Rhett Miller The Instigator

Rhett Miller The Instigator
While the Old 97s cultivated their own legion of fans, they were alt-country’s perennial could have been. The band’s last album, Satellite Rides, completely shed any country trappings in favour of power pop, but when that direction failed to catch on, it seemed only a matter of time before front-man Rhett Miller would want to wipe the slate completely clean. On this first solo outing, Miller certainly comes out of the gate with both guns blazing. And while The Instigator may be paint-by-numbers Ryan Adams in its construction and intent, Miller’s trademark hyperactive energy goes a long way in making a good first impression. Yet despite the often-pedestrian musical settings, the album’s saving grace is Miller’s flair for melody. "Things That Disappear” is instantly infectious and "Point Shirley” contains a refreshing ’60s bounce. Overall though, The Instigator’s great charm is also its biggest drawback, because there’s absolute nothing demanding about it; it’s one winsome pop tune after another with a touch of twang thrown in for seasoning. Come to think of it, the Old 97s were the exact reverse of that. Miller still needs a lot more grit, although for now he remains lightweight but likeable. (Elektra)