For most of the year, I pegged the mighty Drive-By Truckers' latest album, English Oceans, as merely good. In the last month or so, though, I've turned the corner on it. Full of rich stories -- even more so than usual with these guys -- the record is especially dark, which, again, isn't necessarily new for this band. Maybe that's why it took me a while to warm up to it: Their sustained greatness risks fans like me taking it for granted.
"Pauline Hawkins" is almost unfathomably mysterious. Patterson Hood's narrator lets his lover know just how little he thinks of her, but the intensity of his insistence makes me think he protests too much. Sounds like a guy convincing himself that he's too tough or smart for love. Plus, the musical coda at the end is a killer.