After making most of their earliest records on their own dime, Camper Van Beethoven moved up to the big leagues with 1988's Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart, their first album for Virgin Records. While some fans wondered if a larger budget and corporate oversight were going to change the shape-shifting folk-punk smart alecks, the results offered a decisive answer: yes and no. Producer Dennis Herring gave CVB a much bigger and glossier sound than they had ever had before, and between the horn charts, the gated drums, the tasty electric guitar tones, and the keyboards that no longer sounded like they'd been rescued from a junk shop, Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart made the band sound like professionals rather than enlightened (and slightly sloppy) amateurs, which had always been a certain part of their charm. There was also a greater snark in Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart, as the cockiness of their humor developed a sharper and more defensive edge on tunes like "Never Go Back," "Life Is Grand," and particularly the darkly witty paean to Patty Hearst, "Tania." But for all the polish, Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart is still very much a Camper Van Beethoven album, especially when Victor Krummenacher's loping bass kicks in, Jonathan Segal's fiddles and keyboards color the melodies, and David Lowery spins his tales confirming that, despite his loose-limbed attitude and goofy sense of humor, he wasn't a hippie -- or a hipster for that matter. Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart revealed you could clean up Camper Van Beethoven but you couldn't necessarily make them behave, which was certainly a good thing.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming