Everything Must Go

Everything Must Go

Steely Dan’s 2000 reunion album made such a splash that no one noticed when the duo released a follow-up three years later. As always, the playing on Everything Must Go is tight and clean, but in another way the album is Donald Fagen and Walter Becker’s loosest work date. There is less emphasis on the production process as artwork, and “The Last Mall,” “Things I Miss the Most” and “Green Book” actually sound like a group of accomplished musicians playing live in a room. In timbre and arrangement, the music is very similar to what Steely Dan has been plying since Aja, but the lyrical concerns are anything but dated. “Pixeleen” is a strange fantasy about the modern adolescent, or as Fagen puts it, “the three-times perfect ultrateen.” Meanwhile, “Godwhacker” sounds like a thinly veiled commentary on the presidency of George W. Bush. Contemporary America has given Dan plenty of grist for the mill, but the autobiographical title track sounds like a permanent sign-off: “Guess it's time for us to book it / Talk about the famous road not taken / In the end we never took it / And if somewhere on the way /We got a few good licks in / No one's ever gonna know / Cause we're goin' out of business / Everything must go.”

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