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Runaway Tame

What does Minneapolis see in Soul Asylum?

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When it comes to the '80s and '90s bands on which Minneapolis stakes its legendary reputation, there's Prince, Hüsker Dü, and the Replacements -- great acts all. Then there's Soul Asylum.

Not that a little pride for local '90s heroes is something to be ashamed of. But Minneapolis invests Soul Asylum with a mystique that'd be deemed ridiculous anywhere else.

That said, I tried to listen to The Silver Lining, the group's first studio album in eight years, with an open mind.

It's largely inoffensive, which is a nice way of saying that I almost made it through the whole thing in one sitting. But somewhere along the way, perhaps while Dave Pirner was wailing about a "Bus Named Desire" (yes, I said "Bus Named Desire"), I started having flashbacks to little Timmy, missing since 1987.

The bus song rocks out in a way that's hilarious and exaggerated, and convinces me that Soul Asylum is vying for an opening slot on the Poison tour. The band's melodies are occasionally catchy, in a bar-band-from-the-'burbs way. But Pirner's lyrics aren't worthy of a high school poetry mag. The opening track opines, "You might be right/You might be wrong/You might just think your life has gone on for too long," and later, "It won't take long/You can't go wrong/Stand up and be strong."

For what it's worth, I hear the band's great live, although, as you can imagine, I'm not exactly counting the days until the next show. Sorry, guys. I just don't get it.

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