The Pogues are still one of the only bands I've formes a personal relationship with (the kind whose songs pop into your head during important time sin your life) and this album is the third reason why, ranking just after "Rum..." and "...Grace with God" (both five star classics).
Here, a few bona-fide classics (USA, Down All the Days, Night Train to Lorca) are surrounded by some well-played but uninspired tracks that occasionally veer toward the insipid (My Blue Heaven, Cotton Fields).
Face it, The Pogues aren't exciting without Shane Mcgowan at the helm. Here, while they sound awful nice, the others that step to the mic seem to adopt a sort of pompous tone. I'll take drunken slobberiness before pomposity any day.
Whne McGowan uses his by now-deepening gurgle to good effect, in slow cadence, or in tandem with someone else, the band smokes. When he relinquishes it and passes out on the couch, the album loses steam (notable exception: Lorelei).
Still, certain powerful emotions (sadness, anger, fear, longing) are the themes that still drive what these guys were doing. When they pull it off, they created the best Irish-inflected-rock I've ever heard.