The worst you can say about Steely Dan is that, with their familiar, almost hermetically sealed signature sound, they’ve turned into sheer comfort food for the 50ish executive crowd. And maybe the best you can say – and it’s a lot – is that this comfort food remains peculiarly discomforting. Reassuring horn charts, in-the-pocket grooves, and maternal female vocals aside, Everything Must Go is about as fatalistic as the downwardly mobile, downwardly mortal title suggests. Offering lyrical nervousness and musical Novocain in equal shots, it’s another installment of ”Chicken Soup for the Materialistic, Mildly Perverse, Apocalypse-Dreading Soul.”
Real sentiment occasionally rears its ugly head, as in ”Things I Miss the Most,” but even in that sad-sack scenario, memories of ”the talk, the sex, somebody to trust” give way to postdivorce lamentations about ”the Audi TT, the house on the Vineyard…the comfy Eames chair.” Things get less gooey from there. It’s safe to say no one else milking nostalgia on the summer amphitheater circuit will be fronting new material as wildly funny as ”Godwhacker,” the violent ramblings of a mercenary out to assassinate the Almighty; ”Lunch With Gina,” a cautionary tale about a stalker girlfriend (or wife); and ”Pixeleen,” which contrasts Lara Croft imagery with a game-playing Jersey girl’s mundane life. Only Becker and Fagen could veer from ”Our man Abu squeezes off twenty tracer rounds” to ”Her cell phone rings/It’s, like, her stupid father” in a single bound.