[17 November 2009]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Goodbye Cruel World, Hello Crueler World makes one thing clear: We need more bands like Spider Bags. There is absolutely nothing careful about this album, which is what makes its ramshackle, rocking feel get you so worked up. There’s the psychedelic, stretched-out guitars jams like “Trouble”, the frayed country balladry of “Swimmer on a String”, and even the funky, sawdust blues of “Long White Desert Rose”. Spider Bags tackle each sound with a ragged confidence and meld them together into a cohesive, infectious soundtrack for your favorite dive bar.
There are barroom anthems like “It Always Loved to Happen”—where the band declares,“Life is spent between cigarettes and regret”—and the boozy shuffle of “Lord Please”. But quieter moments can be found, like the haunting, fuzzy closer “Here Now”, that the band pulls off with a brilliant restraint that doesn’t sap one ounce of the album’s momentum. These sweat-soaked songs are what rock music should be—worn at the edges, frantic, and coursing with whiskey-thinned blood. Sure, the band may push too far in small moments—“Que Viva el Rocanroll” is a pretty goofy sing-along—but the charm of these guys comes in its inability to pull it back. While the reigning the Hold Steady keeps the kids warm during those frigid Minnesota nights, Spider Bags will make them melt in North Carolina.