The Minus Five 

The Gun Album

By design, alt-adult supergroup the Minus Five has never been the most serious of bands. Still, you might expect a little more sincerity from former Young Fresh Fellow Scott McCaughey and friends on an album with a handgun on its cover. Instead, this tongue-in-cheek tribute to booze, bullet-pierced Bibles and, inevitably, the Beatles, plays like most everything in the band's decades-deep catalogue -- McCaughey's songwriting, by turns brilliant and absurd, dominates, while his usual cast of REM, Posies, and (why not?) Ministry expats churn out pleasant, if predictable, '60s-pop hooks. The Gun Album boasts the Five's best guest lineup to date, with Wilco supplying post-Yankee Hotel Foxtrot clicks and pops to "With a Gun" and "Hotel Senator," and the Decemberists' Colin Meloy delivering the moving country ballad "Cemetery Row." But such heartfelt moments only under-score McCaughey's own trademark hokeyness. For a brief moment in "Bought a Rope," you actually believe the guy as he pleads I never wanna let you go over spare steel guitar and organ. But -- get it? -- that's why he bought the rope. Plenty happy, this gun could use more warmth.

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