This article originally appeared as a blog post on the Victoria Advocate on August 15, 2015. Photo found here.
About a year ago, I went back to Fort Worth for TCU’s Homecoming Weekend. It was a wonderful time full of visits from people I hadn’t seen in a while, and TCU won their game, so all was well.
After the game, a friend of mine who was still in college invited me and some other alum friends to a party at his house. This was all fine and good, until the moment when I stepped out into the back yard and found two 18-year-olds at a beer pong table. At this point me and my friends were the oldest ones at the party. The 18-year-olds challenged us to a game and then told us they had never played before.
It was then that my friends and I realized we had collectively become That Guy— the graduate who keeps coming back to parties long after he should.
Having learned our valuable lesson, we promptly left and went to a bar, where we stayed for the rest of the evening, like respectable adults.
Listening to Luke Bryan’s latest, “Kill the Lights,” I get the feeling that he realizes he’s becoming That Guy, but he’s still trying to prove he can party with the best of them.
The promotion for this album included releasing a music video on Tinder and recording a karaoke session with Jason Derulo. Say all you want about his music, but Bryan knows how to promote it. However, those two ads come across less like Bryan is trying to promote his material and more like he’s striving to stay relevant in a bro-country genre he helped create.
Bryan sounds almost embarrassed about all the party noise. He opens the album with “Kick the Dust Up,” a repetitive-lyric exercise in cornfield partyin’ that required three writers to create, but Bryan sounds tired, like he’s been there before and knows it. The slower, more introspective songs are what keep the album moving, and the sad songs work, too.
“Strip It Down” is a sultry, adult love song, with lyrics like “Let’s whisper, let’s don’t talk/baby, leave my t-shirt in the hall.”
Bryan has always been able to tinge his songs with melancholy elements. “Crash My Party,”“Drink a Beer” and “Roller Coaster” all sound sadder than the nostalgia they embrace. There’s always a few songs per album that hint at knowing the party’s about to end, but there’s more this time.
“Fast” and “Just Over” both deal with loss and aging, while “Scarecrows” acknowledges the nostalgia that comes from leaving a town you never thought you’d get out of.
It’s a shame there weren’t more songs like that on the album. I have a feeling Bryan’s got more substantial material up his sleeve; he just doesn’t want to use it. Bro-country has been good to him so far. The lights are still on for his party, but just barely.