More streamlined sounding and less original than their art-house punk debut, Dumptruck's sophomore release, Positively Dumptruck, still works thanks to a quality batch of songs. The band's main protagonists, guitar and vocal men Seth Tiven and Kirk Swan (Swan would depart after this album), improve on the raw and antsy Television-R.E.M. stylings of 1983's D Is for Dumptruck with tighter songs, a bit of studio sheen, and more pop elements. Straightforward and driving cuts like "Walk Into Mirrors" appeal with their bristling energy, while more cerebral songs like "Back Where I Belong" come off with a balanced mix of jangly guitar pop, feedback solos, and the occasional tempo change; however, when the band dips a little too deep into the expressionist trough on a track such as "Ethics," things get bogged down. Thankfully, this is a rare occurrence as the band mostly sticks to their lucid brand of collegiate punk. While not likely to go down as a classic slice of early indie wax from the '80s, Positively Dumptruck is still good for the occasional spin on the turntable (note to Wilco fans: check out "7 Steps (Up)" for intimations of Jeff Tweedy and company).
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook