The Deal: Amidst the indie-rock craze, the wise '90s rockers stick to what works.
The Good: It's clear singer Adam Duritz has come a long way from the Mr. Jones we-all-wanna-be-big-big-stars days on the band's latest. One-part brooding, alcohol-fueled 4 a.m. rant and one-part the regret-ridden morning after, the band's fifth studio effort is all about the lowest points of rockdom and the hangover that follows. Alternating between two distinct sounds, Saturday Nights presents a striking dichotomy of cynical-but-catchy guitar rockers to the country/jazz, heart-on-his-sleeve acoustic tunes that brought Duritz and the Crows to their potentially problematic level of fame. Despite opening with some of the darkest of the band's material to date ("This is a list of what I should have been but I'm not"), there's a redemptive quality to Saturday. As the album progresses, demons are silenced, clouds part, realizations are made and the songs shift to melodic piano/harmonica tunes that hint – if not at a full deliverance – than certainly at acceptance. Though it's not exactly a happy ending, Saturday Nights speaks particularly eloquently and emotionally about fame and its pitfalls.
The Bad: The first two tracks are a tad on the wanna-be-young-and-hip-indie-rocker side, skip 'em and wait until the record gets into stride.
The Verdict: Give this one time. It's one you linger in and hope to find some middle ground. If nothing else, Saturday Nights offers some great new material that is at the same time comfortable and familiar.