Lucero's Nobody's Darlings is the sound of the Replacements, 20 years later, a little more sober, and from Memphis instead of Minneapolis. In other words, the band's occasional feints toward country music and electric blues come off with a lot more credibility and just as much enthusiasm. Just like the Replacements' Pleased to Meet Me, Lucero's seventh album is produced by local legend Jim Dickinson, but where some longtime Replacements fans thought Dickinson polished off a few too many of the 'Mats' rough edges, there's a loose, live feel to Nobody's Darlings that's in keeping with the rest of Lucero's catalog. Singer Ben Nichols is the band's best asset, and while his occasionally hoarse but always heartfelt vocals owe a lot not only to Paul Westerberg but to Social Distortion's Mike Ness, he's a better than average lyricist who covers the same ground as a hundred other rock & roll dudes -- "And We Fell" is the inebriation song, "California" is the frustration song -- but with enough regular-guy charm and occasionally sharp lines to keep from fading into the garage rock woodwork. ~ Stewart Mason, Rovi

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