Coming from someone with a fresh tattoo and rook piercing, country group Little Big Town’s sixth studio album, Pain Killer lived up to its name. It certainly numbed my pain. Little Big Town has slam-dunked a record full of range, and done what the group does best: country summer jams.

Pain Killer

A-
Little Big Town
Capitol Nashville


LBT opens with “Quit Breaking Up With Me,” the best track by a considerable margin, with lyrics featuring a strong Southern drawl and calling in the humor from previous number-one country hit, “Pontoon.” And lightning certainly strikes twice; I mean, “I’m the only one that will put up with your censorship”? It’s redneck genius, only reachable by Little Big Town. The lead single, “Day Drinking,” speaks for itself. After debuting in June, it still has me ready to crack a beer at noon.

“Pain Killer” was a solid choice for the title track. Backed by a rolling beat, it demands to be swayed to at every show. Plus, all of the “la’s” in the bridge deserve at least an enthusiastic mouthing (or shouting, if fans also started drinking at noon).

Karen Fairchild sings, “Yeah, I wanna taste her lips … ” *Head tilts* “ … because they taste like you.” OK, now it makes sense. Not that there is anything wrong with a country-lesbian love song sung by a female member married to her male band mate. It just definitely would’ve been a first. Nonetheless, it is the highlight of the low-tempo tunes.

“Faster Gun” builds up throughout the chorus, but in the end it doesn’t deliver much. But that’s okay because it leaves the floor open for “Good People” to swing in and kill it. It’s catchy and true. “Good People know good people,” but great people know this song is gold.

Go to any hoedown in the next year, and “Stay All Night,” will be played. And if it isn’t you must leave immediately because that is no hoedown worth taking part in. This track is a classic get-down-at-the-hoedown jam, guitar solo included. “Save Your Sin” has pitchy verses that are tough to follow, but its chanting chorus makes for another notch on LBT’s pain-killing belt.

The emotional pit of the album comes with “Live Forever.” Emotion is not exactly the defining feature in Little Big Town albums, but this track is the album’s first vocal collaboration between male and female Little Big Townees, and its a cappella verse is close to musical magic.

“Things You Don’t Think About,” is a mix of dirty south and southern choir. The hook (which is one of the best country hooks of late) puts fire in the eyes, while the chorus brings in the mist. Following a (rather boring) instrumental opening, the beat of “Turn the Lights On,” drops and it had me throwing myself at every light switch in sight. Where the track starts and ends are night and day. And it’s hard to understand why the album closes with “Silver and Gold.” It’s an OK love song, but certainly no way to close a record like “Pain Killer.”

Nonetheless, Pain Killer, in short, killed it. By the time is was finished, my tattoo was at ease and my ear was so pleased, even with a metal bar through it. Little Big Town has done it again, and have cemented their place in country music royalty.

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