Lucero Taps Back in Raucous Side with ‘Should’ve Learned By Now’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Photo by Jamie Harmon

Across 12 studio albums, Lucero has experimented with their sound, adding in horns at times while slipping in and out of country and punk rock to various degrees. But at the core of each and every record, the Memphis band has remained fiercely independent in their sound. Ben Nichols’ distinctive gravely vocals soaring over the perfect mix of Johnny Cash and The Clash-inspired music have been a hallmark of the band since the 1990s. 

And Should’ve Learned By Now is no different. They lean a little more into their punk rock influences with this effort, but there is still plenty to love here for the fans that were originally drawn into their more Americana side. The bulk of the record started out as odds and ends that were left off of 2018’s Among the Ghosts and 2021’s When You Found Me, with many of these tracks considered too up tempo to fit into the more somber, darker mood of those records. “I had a particular sound I was looking for on each record and there was no room for any goofy rock and roll or cute witticisms or even simply upbeat songs,” Nichols says. “But now finally, it was time to revisit all of that stuff and get it out in the world. That’s how we got to the appropriately-for-us-titled album Should’ve Learned by Now. The album is basically about how we know we are fuckups and I guess we are ok with that.” 

That playfulness is apparent from the opening song, “One Last F.U.,” with punk spiked guitars backing Nichols’ kiss off to a doomed relationship. It can also be heard on songs like “At The Show” and “Nothings Alright.” The album closer “Time To Go Home,” an inspired and catchy song about closing out the night, is bound to be a show staple for the next few years.

Unlike the last two albums, there really isn’t really a strong theme to this record aside from the rowdiness of many of the tracks here (the slow tempo “Drunken Moon” and “She Leads Me” being the two big exceptions). But after a couple of strong yet musically restrained records, it’s fun to hear Lucero tapping into their more raucous side again. 

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