Soul Asylum

Candy from a Stranger

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With Let Your Dim Light Shine, Soul Asylum hit the skids, unintentionally spinning into middle-of-the-road territory. It was an uninspired and careerist record, one that dropped off the charts as quickly as it entered, tarnishing the group's image, both as alternative heroes and hitmakers. For their follow-up, Candy From a Stranger, Soul Asylum stubbornly continued in the post-Tom Petty mainstream rock tradition that marked their first two albums for Columbia. It only made sense -- a return to the sloppy rave-ups of Twin/Tone, or even their hard-rocking A&M records, would have seemed forced. And Candy From a Stranger is better than the near-disastrous Let Your Dim Light Shine, which was dogged by such embarrassments as "Misery." Nothing on Candy is as bad as "Misery," but there's another problem -- not many songs make an impression, either. This is pure, workmanlike rock & roll, which means it has to be well-crafted in order to succeed. Dave Pirner does have a couple of good songs -- "I Will Still Be Laughing" is a catchy, if restrained rocker, and "Blood Into Wine" is a fine slice of country-rock -- but too often his songwriting is simply colorless. As a result, Candy From a Stranger is a journeyman record -- an album that delivers the goods competently, but with no real flair or passion.

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