Adam Duritz wants us to feel sorry for him. We may see him in magazines and on television hanging out with beautiful people, attending lavish parties and sipping whatever it is that rich people drink — it ain’t Boone’s Farm, I know that — but according to the song “Los Angeles,” Duritz is “just tryin’ to make some sense out of me.”
As someone who related to the oblivion Duritz sought in “Perfect Blue Buildings,” to his desire for “something beautiful” in “Mr. Jones,” and who thought he and his band did a pretty decent job reconstructing the old clichés of mid-American classic rock with indirect music quotes from Van Morrison, Tom Petty, the Iron City Houserockers, and even greater sidelined obscurities, I’ve learned to overlook his precious moments. In other words, I skip about half of every album.
Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings is an old-fashioned concept album that, as its title implies, celebrates in high gear and then downshifts to contemplate existence afterward — a 60-minute record that at 14 tracks goes on forever. (They should’ve really gone “old school” and cut it at the 42-minute mark.) The band tears out of the gate like Pearl Jam with “1492” and really don’t hit an agreeable stride until they slow down for Track 7, “Washington Square,” when Sunday morning comes down prematurely and then definitively with the mournful harmonica hangover tune, “Almost Any Sunday Morning.”
“You Can’t Count on Me” resembles Springsteen’s recent “I’ll Work for Your Love,” with its twinkling, irresistible piano hook, and then it’s on to the finish, where Duritz overplays another piano lament (“On a Tuesday in Amsterdam Long Ago”) before gathering the band for one last blast (“Come Around”), where you think he’d better not have any ideas of going solo because he really needs these guys more than he knows.
— Rob O’Connor