11. Rock N Roll (2003): Far and away Ryan Adams’s most unloved album, Rock N Roll probably deserves defense more than it does criticism at this point. A reaction to the Strokes-led millennial rock revival (the first track is titled “This Is It,” answering — incorrectly — the question posed by the Strokes’ debut), it could be argued that Rock N Roll is a genre exercise along the lines of the Finger and/or Orion, and thus not meant to be taken seriously … except for the fact that it was treated as a major release by Adams’s label at the time, Lost Highway, and its subsequent skewering probably derailed Adams’s career to some degree. But it is not without its charms: Adams’s melodic gifts are on full display here (though his lyrical gifts are, um, not) and the album’s back half is littered with minor highlights, including “Burning Photographs,” “Do Miss America,” “Boys,” and “The Drugs Not Working,” all of which should be enjoyed for the music, not the words. My favorite song here is “Anybody Wanna Take Me Home,” which sounds more like the Smiths than anything ever recorded by, say, Smiths clones Gene, due more to Adams’s note-perfect mimicry of Johnny Marr’s guitar work than his near-perfect mimicry of Morrissey’s vocal delivery.
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