How can a band give so much with one hand and take so much away with the other? In Boys In The Public Bar, Melbourne’s Dirt River Radio have served up the most thoughtful deconstruction of boozing, male bonding, mindless aggression and masked masculine fragility since The Pogues held a mirror up to the thousands of tiny tales played out in the pub every night.
Sadly, it finds itself sharing album space with the likes of Ballad Of A Broken Man and American Beer, blandly gruff slabs of country rock so generic and clichéd, they bring the long repressed memory of Counting Crows gurgling up like a sour sick burp.
The rest of the album falls somewhere between these extreme highs and tragic lows, all pick-up truck guitars and bleary-eyed barfly poetry that’s sneakily tender under the spit and sawdust exterior.
If you can get past the occasional stinkers, there’s some magic to be found in the Dirt.