Eli Young Band's new single 'Drunk Last Night' is a subtle, but important, departure from songs on the 'Life at Best' album. The track shuffles along at a slightly faster tempo than 'Crazy Girl' or 'Even if It Breaks Your Heart,' but the chorus and production breathe new life into the band's sound. 

'Drunk Last Night' isn't a great title; one almost resigns himself to another silly drinking song before an electric guitar and thumping bass drum open the song. Fortunately, that's not what this Texas quartet delivers. The first cut from an upcoming album is smart and emotional. Singer Mike Eli carries the melancholy verse well, explaining a night that will feel familiar to many country fans.

"Might have been a song on the radio / Might have been nothing baby I don't know / Might have been a little too tired to fight / Might have been I got a little drunk last night," he sings during the chorus.

Later, he adds: "Might have been a girl who looked like you / Might have been a fluke, might have been a full moon."

While the chorus is melodic and memorable, the verses are somewhat generic and forgettable. "I got a little too far gone / My heart was talking way too loud / Don't remember what I said, I just remember breaking down," Eli sings during the too-brief second verse. It's not offensive -- more of an missed opportunity to add a few more poignant details to their story.

Despite the doleful plotline, 'Drunk Last Night' feels cleaner and more upbeat than anything the Eli Young Band has released recently. Critics of the band will point to the mid-tempo slog that defines their most celebrated songs. There was almost an emo-rock feel to cuts like 'Crazy Girl.' That's still present in Eli's singing (it's what makes him such a unique vocalist), but the beat is peppier and more accessible. It's a strong improvement that shouldn't come at the cost of any longtime fans of the group.

3.5 Stars

Listen to Eli Young Band, 'Drunk Last Night'

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