As a collection of songs, Brighter Than Creation's Dark ranks among Drive-By Truckers' best, even though there are a couple of skippable tracks. Digested all at once, though, this 19-song behemoth offers an even more inviting sprawl, with silly throwaways like the jokey gay character study "Bob" and poker-faced message number "You And Your Crystal Meth" acting as welcome (and brief) rest stops between absolute stunners like "The Righteous Path" and "That Man I Shot," which tell noir-ish tales of small-town Southerners who won't (or can't) stop fighting, whether in Iraq or the unfriendly confines of home. Bassist Shonna Tucker makes up for the loss of guitarist-songwriter Jason Isbell by making three quality contributions (including the hauntingly pretty "The Purgatory Line"), and primary songwriters Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley reclaim familiar territory and flesh out the terrain beautifully on the crumbling family portrait "Daddy Needs A Drink" (which feels like a standard-in-waiting) and the menacing backwoods thriller "Goode's Field Road."
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