Review Summary: WE ARE THE SONS OF NO ONE
I’m sure Paul Westerberg had a hell of a time growing up in Minneapolis. Despite launching the seminal Replacements and Husker Du, it’s not the type of town that embraces punks. Sure Minneapolis views itself as a more cosmopolitan Milwaukee and is proud of being the biggest city going westward for about 2000 miles, but at its core it’s still a place where everyone goes to church and people say “you betcha” even when they’re trying really hard to act sophisticated and will bitch incessantly that the accents in the movie “Fargo” are a “bunch of bullsh*t.” People do talk like that and most of them belong to a lot of schools, most of which are entirely old. The state of Minnesota usually votes liberal but about 99% of its adults are the “get off my lawn” types that take honor in working 50 hours a week and muddling their mini-vans through epic winters. In other words, Paul Westerberg probably should have been born in London or New York or any other quasi bourgeoisie city that embraces the moteliest of crews.
Something was happening here though. Perhaps Westerberg, Bob Mould, Prince, and Dave Pirner’s eccentricities were actually forged from stifling oppression growing up. It might be the reason “Bastards of Young” is probably the most ferocious anthem of tawdry youth ever created. Someone who didn’t get his ass kicked in high school or was singled out by authority figures because their hair wasn’t perfectly coifed in quintessential Sunday best could not roar with the type of sincerity that is glaringly apparent here, and they wouldn’t be able to carry the equally impressive “Hold My Life” with a straight face or the same fire in the guts. Westerberg’s passion on “Left of the Dial” is an ode to his Replacements, the song about songs that should be burned into the subconscious of modern youth but is relegated to college radio and the stations nobody with un-ripped jeans gave a sh*t about.
“Tim,” like its predecessor “Let It Be” is held aloft by anthems (Bastards of Young and Unsatisfied) and benefits from finishing touches that don’t sound like they have any business on a punk album (Androgynous, Waitress in the Sky). Westerberg and company certainly lived to up-the-punx, there’s a reason pretty much everybody says The Replacements are in their top 5 influences, but the reason the band stands out so much is they snuck in flavors of rockabilly, country, and even lounge music at times that presents a smorgasbord of musical flavors that manifested itself as a beautiful clusterf*ck. “Bastards of Young” is the anthem Sid Vicious couldn’t have written with an unlimited supply of razors, heroin, and angst, but the only other band that would even dare or even try to get away with songs like “Waitress in the Sky” and “Kiss Me on the Bus” is the Clash. Aside from its anthemic pillars, “Tim" plays out like a post-modern sock-hop. “I’ll Buy” has that Elvis Presley esque 50’s jam feel loaded with stop-starts that let you know the band means serious business and is about to rock (at least by 50’s standards). “Kiss me on the Bus” is all Roy Orbison and his hopelessly optimistic pleadings, and “Kiss Me in the Sky” is the snarkiest song about flight attendants ever; the songs transcendence is built up by the irony that the Replacements were a beaten down van band, not the type of dudes who flew to gigs.
It’s no secret that punk is supposed to champion the low-life; any punk album that doesn’t is dead in the water. There are varying degrees to how successful this notion is however, and even more importantly, how it is presented sonically. By “Tim,” The Replacements had honed their chops enough to glaringly stand out amongst the crowed. They were as passionate as anybody, smarter than everybody, and more melodic than God. “Tim” is a rare act at the height of its powers, and no matter what anybody says, we’ll always have that Bastard-loving anthem.