Beer has never been this boring.
Despite an illustrious career that’s spanned nearly twenty years, Dierks Bentley has never been able to grab a spot on country’s coveted A-list, and isn’t mentioned in the same breath as Bryan, Aldean, Rhett, or Thanos when someone lists the genre’s current stars. Part of this is by choice, as Bentley has been unafraid to sacrifice his Q rating in the name of passion projects (his bluegrass album in 2010, his Hot Country Knights alter ego in 2020), but part of this has been a noticeable inconsistency in his mainstream releases, with a periodic drift towards mainstream blandness (such as his previous single “Gone,” or most of his 2016 album Black). Unfortunately, despite teaming up with the genre’s flavor-of-the-month HARDY (hasn’t he ruined enough songs lately?) and the genre-blending artist BRELAND (good grief, not more all-caps names), Bentley finds itself stuck in the same old rut with his new release “Beers On Me,” a paint-by-numbers snoozefest whose only value is as a PSA for sobriety.
The production here is a limp, lifeless mix that works against the ultimate goals of the track instead of supporting them. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: This is same old guitar-and-drum mix that everyone else leans on, and outside of a steel guitar that buried in the background and barely audible, that’s pretty much all you get. With its simple riffs, neutral tones, and slower pace, the sound winds up feeling incredibly heavy and lethargic, and lacks any of the punch, groove, or energy that might catch a listener’s ear and draw them into the story. Instead, the vibe is dull and gray, and makes the song feel like more of an extension of the listener’s daily slog rather than an escape from it. In turn, it makes the audience skeptical of the song’s offer: Why would they go to a bar and drink themselves into a stupor when the experience sounds this boring, and they could go do nearly anything else and have more fun? In other words, this mix is a terrible choice for the song, and it makes the track more of a grind to get through than it already is.
My first question about is vocal is this: Who on earth thought it was a good idea to put three singers on this track? It’s only written for a single performer, and neither HARDY nor BRELAND add any value to the song with their presence. (At least BRELAND’s not-quite-a-rap breakdown on the bridge is ultimately a wash; HARDY’s irritating persona/baggage and weak, disinterested delivery do more harm to the song than good.) There aren’t any technical issues with Bentley’s performance, but his lack of energy and enthusiasm makes him sound like he’s reading the lyrics off of cue cards and would rather be anywhere else in the world than the bar he’s supposed to be touting. He sounds like he’s trying to dissuade people from joining him instead of persuading them (which, to be fair, would be exactly what I’d sound like if I knew I would have to pay for everyone that showed up). The overall level of apathy on this track is just astounding, and if the listener is still awake by the time it’s over, they’re left wondering “If these three can’t be bothered to care about this track, then why should I?” A charismatic performer like Bentley should never be this boring or uninvested, and whoever let this slide as an album cut (much less a single) should be embarrassed.
The lyrics here are about as simple and cookie-cutter as you could get: The narrator’s buying, so bring your troubles to the bar and beer yourself to death because “the beer’s on me” (the fact that the title is missing the apostrophe bugs me far more than it should). Once again, alcohol gets pitched as a snake-oil cure for all of life’s troubles, and this time they don’t even bother to make the pitch that the experience will be fun or exciting (we get one line about “feel-good standard time,” and that’s it). In general, the writing is really bad here: We’ve got a lame “that’s on you, ’cause the beer’s on me” hook that’s neither witty or clever, groan-inducing lines like “leave the sweatin’ to the beer” and “I like my drinks like my roof: On the house,” and even some sleazy-sounding stuff like “I could be your sponsor if you like how that sounds.” (Spoiler alert: We don’t.) With their exclusive focus on beer, the lyrics don’t even offer the usual generic amenities to the listener: We hear nothing of music, dancing, or even the shoulder of a fellow patron to cry on. With so many places from so many other songs that offer a better atmosphere and more things to occupy your time, why would you ever waste your time at a place like this? You wouldn’t, and you shouldn’t bother with this halfhearted sales pitch either.
I’ve heard a lot of drinking songs in my time, but they’re rarely botched as badly as “Beers On Me” is. Everyone from the writers to the singers to the producers just goes through the motions here, leaving us with a hollow shell of a track that all the lager in the world could never fill. No one walks away from this mess looking good, least of all Dierks Bentley and his all-caps collaborators BRELAND and HARDY, and the best thing I can say is that if they’re lucky, no one will remember this drivel even exists in a few months. Bentley remains an effective artist when he’s really invested in the material, so if this is the most feeling that he can muster for a radio single, maybe he should stick to his passion projects instead.
Rating: 4/10. Next!