I used to be so skeptical of reunions when I was younger. I thought they were almost always cynical cash grabs and a waste of my time as a fan. The older I get, the more that seems (mostly) not true. A lot of bands seem to reunite primarily because they a) miss playing together and b) are mature enough to actually get along now. I’m sure the money helps, of course, but I suspect it’s not the primary motivation, especially when the band wasn’t together that long. (I think seeing fans lose their minds at your shows is probably a bit of a motivator too.)
Bachmann has done a fair amount since AOL broke up and I think that’s reflected, at least a little, in his songs. Certainly, some of these songs sound like they were written for AOL pre-White Trash Heroes but a few could easily have been Crooked Fingers songs and others are perhaps most appropriate to WTH, if only the arrangements were weirder. I think Bachmann is a better lyricist than some of his contemporaries and I think that’s still true. I do think this set of songs has more in common musically with All the Nations Airports than any other of their albums, and I’m not sure that’s an entirely positive thing. I do think this set is catchier/more immediate, though.
As with so many bands that have reunited, the edge has dulled just a bit. Not as much as you would expect, which is a good thing, but a little bit. (It’s worth noting that, not being entirely familiar with their catalogue, I confused a couple of these, particularly “Screaming Undercover,” for earlier releases when I saw them live. So that’s a good thing.) The instrumental palette is regrettably back to what it was pre-WTH. I understand that’s what everyone wants but me, but I would have liked a little more artiness, I think.
The production feels…softer?…to me, too. I’m not sure what it is exactly, since their records aren’t particularly grimey and usually a good job is done capturing how they sound. But this one definitely doesn’t sound as loud. Maybe it’s the mix?
Anyway, I didn’t really have any skin in this, since I really like two of their records and had never heard the other two until recently. I think it’s a fine reunion record, though it definitely doesn’t change how I feel about them. I can’t imagine I’ll spend a lot of time listening to it going forward.