Irony is the last refuge of the contrarian rock star, and Steely Dan has made an art form of the sneer and the swerve. No one captured the shattered ennui of the '70s like Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, with music that rode between rock and jazz and with lyrics that dripped irony and were derived from the detachment of seeing the world through drug-colored glasses.
Ever wonder if popular music is better today than it was, say, 40 years ago? Frankly, it isn't. Even with Gangnam style, it's hard to imagine this year producing so many recordings as important as the best of 1972.