When Whiskeytown released Strangers Almanac in 1997, the term "alt-country" had just begun to achieve widespread cultural currency, and the band seemed destined to become one of the style's leading lights. But Whiskeytown was plagued by an unstable lineup, and label difficulties kept Pneumonia, which should have followed Strangers in 1999, off the shelves. Since then, the group split up, and Pneumonia developed a reputation as its great lost album. Is it? Yes and no. Though terrific, it doesn't directly follow the band's previous work. Quieter, more introspective, and more layered than past efforts, it makes a fitting companion piece to Wilco's similarly toned Summerteeth, which it would have appeared beside, had Whiskeytown been better served by the forces of commerce. Though the group has in the past proven itself as capable with slow, wistful songs as any other band, little of its work foreshadowed Pneumonia's delicacy. It's a long way from the overweening melancholy of "Theme For A Trucker" to the twilight pop of "Paper Moon" or the emotional complexities of "Jacksonville Skyline." It's just too bad that such a promising, even experimental album—"What The Devil Wanted" even fiddles with samples and loops—turns out to be a probable dead end. Lead singer Ryan Adams and band mainstay Caitlin Cary both have promising solo careers now, and the rest of us have Pneumonia, a fitting, if premature, swan song from a band that never quite got its due.