You know the familiar refrains: "It's too whiny." "I don't want to hear about Adam Duritz's problems with fame." Both are very valid reasons for disliking the Crows, but, all that aside, it's hard to deny that the band makes quality music, with Adam Duritz contributing pretty great lyrics, whether or not they bug you is a matter of personal preference.
"This Desert Life", while not as emotionally powerful as "August and Everything After", or as resonant as the high points of "Recovering the Satellites", it is, for my money, the most consistant and complete statement the Crows have made thus far. The guys also get high marks from me for not falling into the "too-long album" curse that plagues a lot of bands these days. 10 concise songs (11 counting a hidden track), none of which sound like the others, topped off by beautiful, rootsy production. The high points? The bouncy "Hanginaround", which opens the album; "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby", a song of love to a movie star that feels almost cinematic in its scope; "I Wish I Was a Girl" an interesting gender flip that features a nice, swirling, psychedelic arrangement, which makes it feel nothing like anything else in the Crows catelogue.
On the whole, it's a memorable album that should grow more appreciated with time.