Don’t Tell A Soul

(1989), 6.5/10
Don’t Tell A Soul was The Replacements’ most blatant bid for the mainstream, and it’s far less rough-edged then what came before, with a more radio-friendly sound. It loses the effortless charm of earlier Replacements, and in its place is a thoughful maturity that’s no less valid, but more generic. New guitarist Slim Dunlap has little effect on the group’s sound; the guitars sound fine, but they’re missing Bob Stinson’s personality. A case in point is the wannabe punk of ‘I Won’t’; the band are too far away from their roots by this point to pull it off convincingly, and the resulting track is awkwardly abrasive on an otherwise smooth record. It’s the ballads like ‘They’re Blind’, ‘Achin’ To Be’ and the slow and mournful ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Ghost’ that make the greatest impression, the latter’s low key approach showing the way forward to the next record. It’s not all slow and reflective; ‘Asking Me Lies’ is a likeable slice of jangly radio pop (“telling me questions, and asking me lies”, while ‘We’ll Inherit The Earth’ scores with a catchy chorus (“we’ll inherit the earth/but we don’t want it”). ‘I’ll Be You’ was the single, and it’s typically intelligent, and the closing ‘Darlin’ One’ is effective enough but strays too close to a corporate U2 sound for comfort. Don’t Tell A Soul is underwhelming after the run of great albums that preceded it, but there are still quality songs here even though the group have lost their edge.

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