Album: Steely Dan

Everything Must Go, Reprise
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The Independent Culture

It'll doubtless grow on me with prolonged exposure, but judged by the first few hearings, Everything Must Go sounds like the first generic Steely Dan album. It's full of the usual Dan trademarks - Donald Fagen's characteristically wry inflections, Walter Becker's buttoned-down jazz-guitar fills, the jazz-funk hipster cool of tracks like "The Last Mall" and "Godwhacker", any number of sharp lyrical barbs, and of course, the impeccable performances throughout. There's another addition to their gallery of young, dangerous Lolita figures, "Pixeleen", and at least one track, "Green Book", which brings to mind several slick arrangements from Aja, Gaucho and Fagen's The Nightfly. But there's a shortfall in the kind of bravura flourishes and knock-you-dead melodies one expects from Steely Dan, reflective perhaps of the more resigned, entropic tone of songs such as "Blues Beach", "The Last Mall", "Things I Miss the Most" and "Everything Must Go" itself. Which is not to say it's short on special moments: I loved the way the latter track meanders in like one of Coltrane's great declamatory opuses, and the astringent guitar break in "Green Book", but overall the album seems a little lean, by their own standards. If Gaucho presaged the hedonistic indulgences of the Gordon Gekko Eighties, Everything Must Go sounds more like the herald of capitalist decline.