Cracker – Greenland

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 4)

I used to own a couple more Cracker albums. They all have something to like about them, even if their consistency varies. Cracker went through a bizarre patch from 2002 to 2006, when Lowery worked on new material with a reunited Camper Van Beethoven, while Cracker released live and cover albums and went through a bitter battle with Virgin Records. That dispute culminated in their decision to re-record their biggest hits and release the resulting album on the same day that Virgin issued its own greatest hits compilation, and at a lower price, too. As a bonus, the band’s album also contained the highly amusing, anti-Virgin diatribe “It Ain’t Gonna Suck Itself.” This album is therefore a sort of rebirth, and Cracker returned to making music, releasing at least two more albums after this one, one of which – From Berkely to Bakersfield – is very good.

What I Think of This Album

David Lowery sounds weary and resigned on much of Greenland. It wouldn’t have been at all surprising if this had been the last Cracker album. Sorrow and despair suffuse the disc, throughout which Lowery’s narrator gets repeatedly beaten up, begs for one more chance, asks to not have his heart broken, promises a potential lover to not share what he presumes would be the shameful secret of their union, becomes a hermit, laments growing old (more than once), and derides the very album he’s on as “freedom rock.”

The first sign that something is amiss arrives immediately, in that the first track is a cover. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered an album that starts with a cover. It suggests that the band has given up before it’s even started. The cover in question is a good one – “Something You Ain’t Got” – a song written but never released by American Minor. Cracker makes it their own, with additional vocals from Caitlin Cary (Whiskeytown). The rest of the tracks are pretty good, though the boogie of “Gimme One More Chance” is uncomfortably close to the Black Crowes, and “Sidi Ifni” (a city in Morocco), on the other hand, is excessively psychedelic. But tracks like “I Need Better Friends,” “Everybody Gets One for Free,” “Darling We’re Out of Time,” “Fluffy Lucy,” and “Where Have Those Days Gone” are treats for established fans.

Camper Van Beethoven bassist Victor Krummenacher is in the fold this time around. Lauren Hoffman (Monsoon) sings and plays synths; Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse) contributes guitar and synths; Stephen Koester (Two Dark Birds) plays bass; and Margaret White (Versus) add violin.

The Best Thing About This Album

“I Need Better Friends,” even though I feel a strong pull towards “Something You Ain’t Got.”

Release Date

June, 2006

The Cover Art

It’s okay. I like the old-timey feel, but it’s also drab and the dead whale makes me sad.

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