Credit: Terry Wyatt/Getty
by Jonathan Keefe Music Rooted & Restless

Brothers Osborne | Skeletons

January 23, 2021

The BrOs’ attempt to move the needle back in the direction of commerciality isn’t their sharpest effort but does reposition them at the fore of radio country.

For a brief moment, Brothers Osborne landed in that rare sweet spot between commercial impact and critical acclaim, rubbing elbows with the likes of Chris Stapleton, Miranda Lambert, and Eric Church as standard-bearers for contemporary country. With the release of Port St. Joe, though, the duo’s progressive bent outpaced what radio programmers were willing to abide: While most of the genre’s men were busy ripping off Bruno Mars and Maroon 5, the BrOs dropped an album that owed no small debt to the dancepunk of early aughts rock bands. Their follow-up, Skeletons, is a course-correction, then, attempting to move the needle back in the direction of commercial accessibility. Lead single “All Night,” for instance, is an obvious parallel to their signature hit, “It Ain’t My Fault,” while “Hatin’ Somebody” aims for the same brand of Can’t We All Get Along unity of recent hits like Luke Bryan’s “Most People Are Good” and Kenny Chesney’s “Get Along.” Both sure bets for future singles, “I’m Not for Everyone” and “All the Good One Are” have hooks far stronger than that of “All Night.” That this album stands as a step back from Port St. Joe is not a function of the BrOs’ commercial ambition so much as it’s a matter of songwriting that simply isn’t as sharp as their best material. The title track is easily the standout, with a memorable turn-of-phrase in the chorus (“You got skeletons in your closet / And I got bones to pick with them”) and a massive guitar riff to give the song a real sense of heft. It’s the Brothers Osborne at their rambunctious best, while most of Skeletons finds them settling for being better than most of their peers on country radio.

Published as part of Album Roundup: Oct. – Dec. 2020 | Part 5.