November 20, 2003

Test Spin: Paul Westerberg

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After a superb outing on 2002’s Stereo, hopes and expectations were high for ex-Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg’s new solo record Come Feel Me Tremble. But instead of following up on his recent success as a solo artist, the album sounds like a half-hearted collection of outtakes and unfinished B-sides. The new record, recently released via Vagrant, isn’t bad — but it’s a disappointment. Sure, it’s got plenty of Mr. Westerberg’s knee-jerk brand of hard and sloppy rock ‘n’ roll. But the whole affair is rather unremarkable and tired — lacking both the energy and musicality of Stereo. The record allows merely brief glimpses of Mr. Westerberg’s songwriting prowess on tracks like “Hillbilly Junk,” — a no-nonsense rocker that shows off his knack for melody and arrangement. But this minor success just makes the rest of the album more frustrating. Tracks like the opening “Dirty Diesel” are more typical, featuring terribly uninspired vocal performances and mediocre production. The fervent strumming and near-perfect melodies of past releases give way to a batch of monotonous compositions — heavy on the overbearing and bland guitar work, but short on most everything else. Come Feel Me Tremble is a decidedly uninteresting record — a half-baked release that can only make us hope for a return to form the next time around.

Archived article by Mathew Gewolb