Though not nearly as focused as he would be on subsequent releases, Paul K.'s lyrical prowess is still in great evidence on Achilles Heel. As the sound here is generally varied, from the punky opener "Little David" to country-tinged rockers like "Roses for the Rich," most arrangements wouldn't have been terribly out of step with the majority of modern rock bands in 1995. The frantic psychedelic sound of "Deportee," which chugs along like a Butthole Surfers track, is a nice counterpoint to David Olney's bluesy harmonica contributions on more roots-oriented material, but just as many arrangements lack substantial imagination. Many tracks have an anthemic quality for which Paul K.'s voice, even with backup vocals by Nicki Beurhig, isn't terribly well suited. Still, there are some interesting songwriting moments, with the technophobic "Internet Worm" and the downright nasty breakup rant in "Rerun" being more vivid examples of his evocative verse. The Dylan-esque folk-rock of "When You Read This I'll Be Gone" and the pensive title track are moments when Paul K. appears to on the verge of breaking out of a largely abrasive sound. Much like Townes Van Zandt, whom he covers in "Tecumseh Valley," Paul K.'s early work strongly hints at what would come later, but as such, becomes secondary.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Fink