(cover Zack Worcel / back photo: Alice Knipstine)
Everybody’s here, so let’s play ball! Tried and true rock n' roll stalwarts The Cowboys return after a brief hiatus with their delightful sixth LP, “Sultan of Squat”. This grounded yet adventurous new album marks the reunion of the original lineup, featuring Keith Harman (vocals/keys), Mark McWhirter (Guitar), Zackery Worcel (Bass), and Jordan Tarantino (drums). It is nothing short of a glorious return to form, a long player hoping to bring a smile to the ears of listeners.
“Sultan of Squat” furthers the band's trajectory into themselves, polishing off thirteen songs filled with dubious characters, whimsical retreats, and even the odd love song. As with previous releases, The Cowboys refuse to make their bed in any single genre. Lead track, “The Sultan of Squat'' opens the album with an earworm salute to America’s pastime while lofting a lyrical curveball of dark, defeated humor. The boys kick it into high gear, playing with the finesse and dexterity ten years as a band instills. It's automatic - whether they're launching into classic Midwestern garage punk (“Raining Sour Grapes”), dialing things back to piano-driven power pop (“Token Drifter”), or western slide guitar pop-rock ballads ("She's Not Your Baby Anymore"), The Cowboys are simply incredible across “Sultan of Squat”.
This could well be The Cowboys' finest hour as a group, and six albums in - that's no easy feat. The best of the Midwest is back under the bright lights, pouring collective blood, sweat, and tears into a sound equal parts then and now.