CD Reviews

Soul Asylum - 'Delayed Reaction' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     May 01, 2013    
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A highly charged and eclectic album.

When a band is a Name, it is always that much more interesting to put on their latest recording with no preconceptions. So with no fanfare, I listened to Soul Asylum’s new album ‘Delayed Reaction’. Talking of delays, it is six years since the band’s last album, ‘The Silver Lining’, which apparently “commercially and creatively backfired”. The glory days of Soul Asylum was of course their hit single ‘Runaway Train’ and accompanying album but that was twenty years ago.

The band comprises founder-members Dave Pirner and Dan Murphy on vocals and guitar. In addition there is Tommy Stinson (Guns N’ Roses, The Replacements) on bass and Michael Bland on drums.

The band’s new label is North London’s indie specialist, Floating World Records; and that is the theme of the record – it is more indie than classic rock. So this is a suped-up Gin Blossoms rather than a Skid Row. There are a lot of jangling guitars within and highly charged drumming overlaid with very raucous vocals especially on the hyperbolic ‘The Streets’. As a counterpoint, the immediately following ‘By The Way’ is a more classic sounding ballad with nice orchestration and Pirner doing a breathy Jon Bon Jovi sounding vocal delivery.

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Quite quickly through the album, it is clear this is a quality record which will have multiple plays and will put Soul Asylum back on the music map; the question is which part of the map as I think it will appeal more to the pop/indie community than a pure rock one. Rock credentials are obviously here though, the band will clearly play these songs passionately and loud live and there is a great tone and melody to all the guitar solos. In particular, there is a modern and relevant tone to solos on ‘Pipe Dream’ and the more punk rock ‘Let’s All Kill Each Other’.

Curiously, there is a Bossa Nova lounge track in the middle of the album – ‘Cruel Intentions’ – and it is very reminiscent of Steely Dan (I needed to check the credits to make sure it wasn’t one of their songs!). The rising chorus of the vocal along with the piano melody is very Donald Fagen inspired. It is a great standalone track but fits awkwardly in the album and would be better as a bonus track at the end. Anyway, I was impressed with the diversity.

The album continues with more upbeat songs ‘The Juice’ and ‘Take Manhattan’, again both on the border between indie pop and rock before closing with ‘I Should’ve Stayed In Bed’, which is a brooding ballad with an all hands to the pumps orchestration.

So in summary, Soul Asylum has produced a highly charged and eclectic album and it is clear their musical journey was only on hiatus until now.

Rob McKenzie

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