Jam band stalwarts moe. have essentially created a retrospect of an album. No Guts, No Glory packs a punch, though the blow’s to be expected. The album that ultimately summarizes moe.’s quarter of a century of existence is a showcase of all that they’re capable of. Though it’s not the most original of material, it’s still a solidly produced effort by any means. Opener “Annihilation Blues” is a power chord-heavy number a la Bad Company, its harmonies ever so slight. It is within those more subtle moments that the listener is reminded that this was originally intended to be an acoustic album.
Destruction — nay, deconstruction — is entirely a process of creation and it’s a damn good thing that moe. scrapped the stripped down tracks and instead went for something a bit more diverse. Its members are incredibly gifted players and crafters of song and tend to require a few more options than acoustic guitar. A dizzying vibraphone is what ultimately guides “White Lightning Turpentine” and reaches to the most far out of backline. The closest moe. come to their acoustic desires happens to be within the wicked harmonious track “Calyphornya,” its lyrics a subtle commentary on the image-heavy aspects of the state.
“I’d like to know you when your chips are down,” the band sings in relative unison, their cascading harmonies bolstering the chorus as more of a challenge to the state than a meandering curiosity. Throughout the album, moe. consistently maintains the type of attitude and air of positivity that ultimately makes people want to follow jam bands; they have an infectious energy based solely on musicians who love to create, for whatever their product is worth. No Guts, No Glory tends to consistently hit the mark, though not in the most revelatory of ways. After 25 years, moe. certainly isn’t broken and requires minimal fixing. They’re best left to innovating on their own time.