Guadalcanal Diary


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Guadalcanal Diary's final album is simultaneously their most stylistically consistent and their least effective. Most of the songs on this release uneasily mix walloping rock, arena stylings, and ringing R.E.M. touches; most have clearer, somehow less effective lyrics, some of which (most notably in "The Likes of You") are riddled with cliches. The temptation to think that the band is going for chart success in a big way is very strong here. A few off-style excursions can be found, all but one showing strong ties to songs on earlier albums. "Ten Laws" has the slow, ominous feel of "Spirit Train." "...Vista" mixes musical elements of "Country Club Gun" and "T.R.O.U.B.L.E." in an uneasy alliance with nonsense lyrics. And "Fade Out" (probably the album's best track) is a further excursion into paisley-period Beatles that recalls "Lips of Steel." The one surprise here is the power-pop selection "Always Saturday." A number of the songs on this release have sour, angry lyrics excoriating such things as out-of-control drunks ("Whiskey Talk") and women both snooty ("The Likes of You") and vacuous ("Pretty Is as Pretty Does"). In short, the group seems to be stagnating. Fans of this band will likely find this release to be a letdown from earlier efforts.

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