Tuesday, June 4th, 2024

Miranda Lambert – Wranglers

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Miranda Lambert - Wranglers

Alfred Soto: She didn’t write a note or a word for this, and I can tell. It’s as if someone typed “Gunpowder and Lead” and “Mama’s Broken Heart” into ChatGPT and out came “Wranglers.” The brawny production hinders: every rote syllable gets punched up.

Aaron Bergstrom: Miranda Lambert knows her way around a great revenge song, so I have no idea how something as bloodless as “Wranglers” made it past quality control. This sounds like if “Kerosene” was taken over by a hedge fund.

Nortey Dowuona: Someone needs to get Audra Mae on the record on how long Wranglers take to burn. We would all learn a great deal. I mean, they’re jeans, how long do they — wait.

Ian Mathers: See, other jeans burn like this [crowd goes “ooooh”] but Wranglers burn like this [crowd loses it, uproarious laughter]. Wranglers be burnin’, amirite folks? [crowd goes absolutely feral with joy, rips up seats, destroys stadium]

Katherine St. Asaph: As a bar, “Wranglers take forever to burn” sounds badass until you think about it — so you’re what, waiting around your no-good ex’s house for a couple hours watching yourself fail to commit arson? As a piece of maybe-product placement, it’s no “Wrangler butts drive the cowgirls nuts.”

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Just as schlocky as Chris Stapleton’s take on prestige-country RAWK; just as charming, too — you get the sense that Lambert knows she could do a little better than replicating the feel of “The Chain” for the Taylor Sheridan aesthetic universe, but she’s clearly having fun. The drums unfortunately sound like Stadium Arcadium-era Red Hot Chili Peppers, but everything else is gorgeously-wrought in the way that Lambert’s best singles sound: it’s not subtle and brilliant in the way that “Bluebird” or “Vice” were, but even unsubtle Lambert can be an exceedingly good time.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: The way that the chorus descends — as if engulfed by flames and consumed by vitriol — is satisfying as hell. This one is for your inner pyro. 

Taylor Alatorre: One of the purposes of a song like “Wranglers,” even if Lambert will deny this, is to demonstrate how much more “real” its performer is than Nashville newcomers like, for instance, Dasha. Which is fine on its own: gatekeeping, in forms both benign and ugly, has been a country tradition since it was still being called “hillbilly music,” and it makes more sense to police the authentic in a genre whose very name embeds it in the soil. Lambert certainly sounds more comfortable tossing around the signifiers of battle-scarred, woman-scorned country than Dasha does — maybe too comfortable, if all the instant “Kerosene” comparisons are any indication. But there’s one fatal flaw that “Wranglers” shares with “Austin,” and it’s the intended wham line in the chorus that serves only to douse the narrative in the cold waters of an anti-climax. Steer your mind away from the familiar abstractions of vengeance and female autonomy, and actually picture what Lambert is asking us to picture here: does a pile of faded blue jeans burning in the desert sun for half an hour longer than expected really sound all that satisfying to observe? Why write a revenge fantasy where it can be assumed that the revenger is impatiently checking her watch every few minutes, waiting for the fantasy to be over already?

Jonathan Bradley: A far cry from “Kerosene” or “Gunpowder and Lead,” what’s supposed to be a barn-burner turns out to be a damp squib due to a muddy mix that chokes the guitar in indistinct haze, taking Lambert’s own voice with it. Soggy kindling results in little heat and so much smoke you can’t make out much of anything at all.

Mark Sinker: A pop song is after all no more than a cluster of commodities circulating within a set of interlinked markets — so how is a Brit listener my age (me) still faintly rattled when said song’s burden is a straight-up major brand-name placement? As if that’s somehow not allowed (or anyway not really cricket). Blame the BBC’s straight-up long-term ban on any hint of advertising in anything they broadcast, and the penumbras of ideology beneath and alongside that ban, the smoke and the steel shaping my inner mind: it’s like The Who never Sold Out; like the late Nick Kamen kept his laundrette Levis on to Marvin’s “Grapevine,” like Sigue Sigue Sputnik never sold literal ad-space slots on their first LP (for L’Oréal, EMI, i-D magazine and more); it’s like Run DMC went barefoot. I escaped it enough that Vybz Kartel, Gaza Slim and Popcaan excitedly hymning their nice new furry suede shoes is one of my all-time favourite Jukebox entries. Sadly this is no “Clarks”: after a misleading Morricone lens-flare it slumps quickly into charred serge and claggy ash. No ethical immolation under capitalism!

Michael Hong: If this is Miranda’s attempt at returning to being the shit-talker and the fire starter, well, it sounds like she’s got her kindling stacked too neatly and forgotten her matchbook at home.

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One Response to “Miranda Lambert – Wranglers”

  1. in retrospective I like the confusion over whether she’s burning just the jeans, the whole house (with the jeans in it), or the whole man (with the jeans on the body)

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