Godawful mediocrity


Release year: 2022
Label: Tribulation Recording Company

A bit of context to begin with. For yours truly, US gothic country act Those Poor Bastards have been a favourite for well over fifteen years, and throughout the years I have amassed most of their discography in almost all formats – yes, including the original vinyl version of Country Bullshit and the split with Hank Williams III. Most releases I have in all formats they’ve been released, which means that of most albums I have three copies – tape, vinyl and CD. You can call me a collector.

I’m giving you this bit of context because this review isn’t going to be overly positive. Oh no, I went and spoiled it. The sad fact is, that it’s been years since Those Poor Bastards, or basically anything its mainman Lonesome Wyatt has done has rocked my socks off. Whilst nothing he’s done has been awful, it’s been a while since I heard anything genuinely inspiring, invigorating or interesting by the man. It seems a bit like he’s stuck in a rut, doing the same old sarcastic hellfire and brimstone country shtick until its almost become a parody of itself, not fundamentalist rural christianity.

And so, God Awful, Those Poor Bastards’ 12th full-length album. Add to those six albums with Lonesome Wyatt And The Holy Spooks and two collaboration albums with Rachel Brooke, and you’ve got 20 albums in about as many years. And I’m not counting all of the EP’s and minialbums! No wonder the well of ideas might run a bit dry.

And dry it runs on God Awful. It’s basically just another rehashed edition of the same old sarcastic old-timey christianity, gothic takes on country music and stories from life’s other side. There’s a bit more of rock elements here and there, especially in the form of the occasional driving percussive element, and whatnot, but for the most part, this is exactly what to expect from Those Poor Bastards, in its most self-derivative form.

It’s a shame, because every now and then there’s a glimmer of light and a glimpse of something better. The piano and vocal melody in Redemption Angel are nice, for example, and Wyatt’s vocals have lost none of their deep, gothic charm. But the album is too run-of-the-mill, too laboured. As this has been the state of things for several albums already, it makes one think quantity and a steady pace have trumped over quality: almost as if it’s more important to release an album every year instead of making sure every album is of the best quality.

Having said all of the above, God Awful isn’t godawful. It’s just very, very mediocre. It’s an album that feels like filler from start to finish. And, to be frank, that makes me very sad. Considering the five first Those Poor Bastards albums are still among my all-time favourites, I always find myself hoping against hope for a return to form – but that is yet to come.

If you’re a sworn fan, like me, you’ll buy this album anyhow because that’s just how we fanboys do. If you’re a newcomer to the dilapidated world of Those Poor Bastards, you’re better off with starting from the very beginning. That’s where the true classics are to be found.

Visit Those Poor Bastards on their official website, Bandcamp or Facebook

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