Everything Must Go
Steely Dan has always been known as a smooth purveyor of white boy r&b, who spiced its FM jazz-pop with dark, lyrical undercurrents (what else would you expect from two old cokeheads who named their band after a dildo from a William Burroughs novel?). And this followup to their Grammy-gulping comeback album is no different—though the formulaic sheen here is so predictable it’s almost numbing. Proficient songs like “Pixeleen” and the climactic title track offer hints of glories past with flowery jazz breaks and vocalist Donald Fagen’s still soulful presence over catchy choruses, but as a whole the record doesn’t have much bite. Even though the band used live tracking and got great “in the pocket” takes, there is something a little too clean and anesthetized—a complaint often voiced by non-fans.