PISTOL ANNIES - TAKIN’ PILLS
If this is tepid support, we’d like to see enthusiasm.
Pete Baran: “Takin’ Pills” is another expertly stitched together piece of country, with a catchy lyric and a terrific chorus: a chorus and lyric unfortunately that brings up a cognitive dissonance that the band they are describing is clearly not the Pistol Annies (well, I’m guessing they are all drinking, possibly smoking, and I will not speculate re:drugs). But borrowing money off the band? I don’t think so. Miranda Lambert’s group have been phenomenally successful and as much as the video would like to spin these poorhouse charms, they are not touring in a VW van. I know country is all about telling stories, but this is the Pistol Annies version of the Four Yorkshiremen sketch.
Anthony Easton: The connection between pleasure and geography is firmly enmeshed, and the writing is tight — “there ain’t no filter between her mouth and her cigarette”, “who in the hell is going to pay these bills/one’s drinking, one’s smoking, and one’s taking pills,” or the one I’ve been thinking about once a week for months: “We aren’t ashamed of who we are/we like fast men and cheap guitars.”
Alfred Soto: Last year this was the lamest song on a beloved record, a rare example of striking poses instead of commenting on them. Aiming for the exhilaration of Loretta Lynn’s “The Pill” by hitching their tune to a “Subterranean Homesick Blues” rhythm, it’s either failed outrage or forced levity, which should give you some idea of the tonal confusion. Now, though, it’s got propulsion, smarts, and three women singing the hell out of it.
Iain Forrester: I like the melding of unfiltered cigarettes from observation into metaphor best, but “Takin’ Pills” is funny and knowing from start to finish. It also still sounds like a fun adventure rather than a comedy exercise.
Edward Okulicz: If Miranda Lambert wants to co-write and co-sing songs about pills, booze and cigarettes, I’m going to be interested, and if all three of the Annies are going to deliver the narrative with such good humour and charm, then doubly so. “Takin’ Pills” doesn’t bowl you over, but it’s cute, because the riff is so classic-sounding, and whoever wrote the lyrics in the verses has an efficient way with the words.
Jonathan Bogart: Cracking wise with a sharp eye for detail is what country lyrics do best, and “Takin’ Pills” is further evidence that Pistol Annies are the best songwriters country radio hasn’t touched with a ten-foot-pole in ages.
Patrick St. Michel: More meet-the-band songs need to be like this - willing to show off the stuff that most people would scowl at and shrugging it off all while still not glorifying any of it (who the hell is going to pay the bills?). The twang of it all makes the flaws go down even easier.
Katherine St Asaph: Between the booze, smokes and pills, you’d think something would make the Annies sound gritty, or troubled, or really anything but chipper. The album’s great; this should’ve stayed on it.
Brad Shoup: “She’s on the highest dose of Prozac a woman can take,” sings Lambert as she pulls the best face this song will know. From here, each singer will belabor her portrait. The boys in the band earn their keep — the song’s a genial ramble, with Glenn Worf letting the bass peek out the sunroof during the chorus — and the singers pay back the debt somewhat with the gleefully shabby refrain.
Ramzi Awn: The off-kilter bend on the hook is like the perfect cocktail for an imperfect mind, and you can’t argue with the fuzz of southern hospitality. With a refrain like the eye of a storm, it’s clear that the Annies have found a good lookout in a great morass of a world.
Jonathan Bradley: The fun here is in the staginess: the Pistol Annies introduce one another through their foibles as if “Takin’ Pills” were a grotesque take on a madcap sitcom — The Monkees gone awry, perhaps. It breathes new life into a song that combines two of pop music’s more worn tropes: the road song and the paean to self-destruction. The feel-good honky-tonk helps too: just another night on the town with drinkin’ Miranda, smokin’ Angaleena, and pill-poppin’ Ashley.