MEKONS: Natural [Quarterstick]

After 30 years, the Mekons really are the last gang in town. Although only Jon Langford and Tom Greenhalgh remain from the lineup that recorded debut single “Never Been In A Riot” in 1977, most of the current Mekons have been together since the proto-alt-country revelations of 1985’s Fear & Whiskey. Every few years, they round themselves up from their solo careers and side projects that are no longer peripheral to throw another bottle of devilish potions into the world’s ocean. Natural, their first collection of new songs since 2002’s OOOH!, is a mostly acoustic affair, with Susie Honeyman’s mournful fiddle threading throughout. It’s full of loose sing-alongs, drunken chants and spooky ballads; of apocalypse, cynicism and Satanism; of a jaded worldview that joyfully sees everything as—in the words of the opening track—“Dark Dark Dark.” “Ignore the human sacrifice,” sings Greenhalgh on “Burning In The Desert Burning,” a song about suicide bombers. “You have to believe this is the end,” sings Sally Timms on “Cockermouth,” a reggae-flavored ditty that’s full of a zest for life. We may be going to hell, but with the Mekons to guide us, we’ll enjoy the ride. []

—Steve Klinge