Luke Bryan's fourth album opens audaciously, following some T-Pain-name-checking hick-hop boom-bap with some fast-rhyming drama. Before long, though, the party really does crash: Tempos slow, themes get deep. Bryan spends several songs mooning over girlfriends or his lost small-town youth. Pop-rock riffs try to jump-start "I See You" and "Out Like That," and the all-for-one male bonding of "Blood Brothers" ignites a Bon Jovi blaze of glory. But Bryan just can't match, say, Kenny Chesney's knack for lonely contemplation. Given the drinking songs he's best at, he'd be better off pretending spring break lasts all year long.
From The Archives Issue 1189: August 15, 2013