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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Soul Asylum

Delayed Reaction

Review by Larry Toering

Any time six years go by, it's going to be interesting to hear what a band that has been around long enough is going to come up with. That is not only in the content department, but the production, as well. With Soul Asylum's latest, both are well represented, even if it seems to be on a lighter level. It helps round them out as a versatile act, with a great new sound to top it off. There are also a lot of pop stylings here that seem to be detached from their early stuff. It's almost as if they sound younger and more vibrant. That’s pretty impressive after all they've been through, especially considering they’ve come through it with only one original member remaining. It's amazing how unscathed they sound. Six years has done them good. It’s almost as if they're a whole new band in every way. This album shows a more diverse approach, and it's a fresh result. This is a collection of tunes that just about anyone can enjoy, as it carries both younger and more mature audience appeal.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Gravity
This sets the proceedings up in an almost bubble gum meets Brit-pop style, if a little stripped back for that variety. But it doesn't all go this way from here, so it's important to not let it speak for the rest. It's catchy and light, which serves its purpose as an opener with a great hook.
Into The Light (Breaking Horses)
They go even poppier on this, seeming all the more so with its happy vibes. This is definitely one of the best songs on offer.
The Streets
This is great, with a real Americana sense that drives the whole tune. If anything is universal on this recording, this track would have to be it. It's perfect in so many ways, but the singer/songwriter factor is its strongest point.
By the Way
Revisiting an old number is either a label suggestion or a band choice, but it works either way here on this updated version. I'm not bothered a bit by this, while others do it with half the inspiration.
Pipe Dream
This is another of the more normal rock 'n roll tracks on the disc. Like the rest of them, this delivers a balance that keeps the more eclectic stuff exciting. Without these grounding moments, this album wouldn't be nearly as interesting.
Let's Kill Each Other
This has more pep in it than most of the other tracks, while it blends together a garage sort of punk vibe held over from the 90s. I can see why most fans would like this, but I can take or leave this one number. Still, it does have a humorous quality.
Cruel Intentions
The groove completely changes here, and once again keeps everything interesting as it moves toward the end without losing any steam. This is a more mature effort than the others indeed: a very smooth and soothing track. In fact, it might be even be the album's dark horse. The pop sensibilities are met evenly with a jazz fusion that makes it enormously satisfying, and one of the more interesting numbers.
The Juice
This is more of a sappy tune with less punch than the others, but it still fits well between the previous and following tracks. Still, nothing really stands out for me on this one.
Take Manhattan
There is also a slight sense of filler to this one. However, it’s nevertheless a well rounded track that does a great job taking things into a fantastic exit.
I Should've Stayed In Bed
I would have to call this the most extraordinary number in the set.  It's absolutely sublime and finds these guys completely in left field on this moody closer which takes you into a trance. This comes at you after a killer delivery of great stuff.  They go out with easily one of the most surprisingly diverse tracks of them all.
 
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