Galaxie 500's debut doesn't merely live up to the sweet promise of the band's debut single "Tugboat," Today's final song, but almost without trying becomes its own gently powerful touchstone. While the influences are clear -- third album Velvet Underground, early non-dance New Order, psychedelic haze and fuzz thanks to the reverb Kramer piled on as producer -- the resulting brew easily stands on its own. By never feeling the need to conventionally rock out, the Krukowski/Yang rhythm section comes up with its own brand of intensity. Sometimes the two are persistently skipping along without Krukowski having to bash the hell out of the drums (the downright delightful "Oblivious" is a good example), other times they simply play it soft and slow. Meanwhile, Wareham's low-key chiming and slightly lost, forlorn singing, at places wry and whimsical, often achingly sad, forms the perfect counterpoint to the songs' paces, feeling like a gauzy dream. When he comes up with his own brand of electric guitar heroics, it's very much in the Lou Reed and such descendants vein of less being more, setting the moods via strumming and understated but strong soloing. One particular Descendant gets honored with a cover version: Jonathan Richman, whose "Don't Let Our Youth Go to Waste" is turned into a deceptively calm epic, with marvelous playing by all three members. It's easier to lose oneself in the flow of the sound rather than worry about any deep meaning, making the stronger images that come to the fore all that more entertaining, like "watching all the people fall to pieces" in "Parking Lot." "Tugboat" itself, meanwhile, remains as wonderful as ever, a cascading confession of love at the expense of everything else, somehow mournful and triumphant all at once. Later CD versions included the "Tugboat" B-side, "King of Spain."
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett