Cracker Greenland

These early ’90s heroes of college rock have not made much of a mark of late, but judging from this new disc and a recent righteously rockin’ Toronto gig, Cracker can still deliver a bang for the buck. Main man David Lowery (now an in-demand producer for the likes of Sparklehorse and Counting Crows ) retains his signature sardonic vocal style and penchant for portraits of drunks and lovable but unlucky losers (sample song titles include "I Need Better Friends” and "Where Have Those Days Gone”). It remains an appealing combo. Lead guitarist Johnny Hickman can still play rings around younger pretenders, and multi-instrumentalist Kenny Margolis (Lucky Seven) adds some subtle musical textures. While Cracker’s sound occasionally strays into generic riff-y bar room rock territory, Lowery’s clever and perceptive lyrics always please. There is a melancholy tinge to many of the songs here, including an album highlight, the haunting "Sidi Ifni” ("I drink gin with the old ex-pats, we are broken things from a broken past”). Other songs reference Thomas Pynchon, Minotaurs, and ollallieberry thorns, but Lowery’s pen is always poetic without being pretentious. Nothing quite matches the glory of their biggest hit, "Low,” but this is a real solid and entertaining outing. (Tee Pee)