The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world







Track Listing:

1. Gravity
2. Into The Light
3. The Streets
4. By The Way
5. Pipe Dream
6. Let’s All Kill Each Other
7. Cruel Intentions
8. The Juice
9. Take Manhattan
10. I Should’ve Stayed In Bed



Always a fan I’m so glad when I hear the opening few bars of ‘Gravity’ this IS real Soul Asylum – they’re back.  “Gravity’ may well not be the best song here but for an opening statement that says that the band is back with it’s trademark highly-strung, coiled spring heartfelt pop rock then it does the job.



Over the years there have been line-up changes and this time out Dan Murphy and main man Dave Pirner are joined by Tommy Stinson (Replacements, Gunners) and Michael Bland who used to play with Prince (both Soul Asylum and Prince being Minneapolis natives).



We move trough shades of rock and pop here. ‘Into the Light’ is SA at their lightest and poppiest and most self-assured and reminds me of the “And the Horse They Rode in on” days; and ‘The Streets’ is pop punk at its most infectious.



This sounds like it must have been great fun to record, there’s that air of light and spontaneity that pervades Pirner’s song-writing genius which takes us sideways into ‘By the Way’ which in many ways is the trademark soulful stripped back Soul Asylum ballad: plaintive,  delicate and very ‘Grave Dancer’s Union’ it’s another great song and one that sticks.



It’s hard after so long to come in cold on an album like this. As I said before Soul Asylum was one of those bands I grew up with and have always had a soft spot for. This is definitely a return of some substance. It feels revitalized, fresh and essential.



Maybe it’s the fact that there are hundreds of bands out there who in the intervening years have tried to reproduce this formula. If you were disappointed by the later Soul Asylum albums before the split, you’re not alone, but this I must say marks a really fine return to form.



I both love it and hate it when you can’t pick a weak link: ‘Pipe Dream’ washes effortlessly across you and the delightful ‘Let’s All Kill Each Other’ is a real gem that’s probably worth the price of admission on it’s own to a Soul Asylum fan.



Other highlights for me are definitely the unexpected loungey lowdown feel of ‘Cruel Intentions’ something Mike Patton would probably dream of, and something that either shows a barely concealed sense of mischief or a deep sense of post-modern irony… maybe.



Perhaps three of my favourites though are the closing numbers: the laid back pop of ‘The Juice’; the trademark Pirner storytelling of ‘Take Manhattan’ and the real melancholy epic that is ‘I Should’ve Stayed in Bed’. It’s an album that’s lighter than you may have imagined, but loses none of its edge for that.       



Soul Asylum – welcome back – it’s been too long.




Mark Rockpit