Picks and Pans Review: Don't Tell a Soul
The maturation of Paul Westerberg continues apace. On the latest offering from this winning-ugly Minnesota rock quartet, Westerberg, the group's leader and songwriter, is even evincing some nascent signs of real artistic sensitivity on songs such as "Talent Show" and "Achin' to Be." All right, he's not exactly Mr. Sensitivity yet, but this is still a long way from the rage and ambivalence that colored most of his earlier songs. On Don't Tell a Soul you'll also find some decorous, moody slow songs—"Rock 'n' Roll Ghost" and "They're Blind"—that recall the Twin Cities' lamented Hüsker Dü. The Replacements can and do still kick out the jams on Stones-influenced roachstompers like "I Won't." As Westerberg's writing and voice continue to improve, so does the band's musicality, thanks in large part to Slim Dunlap, who replaced Bob Stinson on guitar in 1987. Until the 1986 Tim, the Placemats (as their fans call them) were more a rabble-rousing club than a band. They still display some of that chaotic charm. What other band would let a song fizzle out in mid-bar and then pick it up again after a few seconds of giddy chatter, as these guys do on "Talent Show"? Don't Tell a Soul is not as strong an album as its predecessor, Pleased to Meet Me. But for fans of the Replacements and of the rock and roll spirit, it's a treat. It's not as if Paul and the boys are more polished. It's just that they're more practiced. (Sire/Reprise)
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