For many Replacements fans, this album will be a let down, because most of said fans have been waiting for Paul to sound more like the Replacements for years. Even the last two ‘Mats albums weren’t considered “Replacements-sounding” enough to be considered Replacements albums. This album is not going to please them either, but for those without preconceived ideas of what a Paul Westerberg album “should” sound like, it’s a great record. It takes a few listens to stop listening for the ‘Mats and start hearing a great album that sounds nothing like them.
Two-thirds of the songs were recorded at Paul’s houses as demos, and then overdubbed with other instruments in the studio. Where there once would have been the sound of an electric guitar, there is now a stripped-down sound made from piano and acoustic guitars. This is the best style of writing Paul has used since he started his solo career. Lyrically, the album is pretty straightforward, without all of the silly/drunken/brilliant lines that he’s been writing for almost twenty years. He actually does great in this style of writing, which is surprising, considering that he’s written some of the best songs ever in a particular style, and can do so well in a completely different style.
Most of the songs are slow to medium tempo, with the exception of “Lookin’ Out Forever,” which actually has a little electric guitar. The first two songs start the record off great, but the third song, “Best Thing That Never Happened,” sounds like a Tom Petty outtake. After this small bump in the road, the record is smooth as silk all the way until the end.
Capitol Records, 1750 N. Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90028-5274