The surprise success of "Natural One" affected the Folk Implosion in a surprising way. Instead of running from success and shunning melody, Lou Barlow and John Davis decided to embrace pop on their own terms. That means the Folk Implosion remains an indie rock band, recording on cheap equipment, and layering brittle guitars for the basic tracks, but the guys write impossibly catchy hooks, such as the amazing single "Pole Position." At its best, Dare to Be Surprised is spare, tuneful, and infectious, and at its worst, it's merely underwritten. Nevertheless, Barlow has rarely been as succinct and consistent as he is here, and Davis' songs are uniformly strong as well, making Dare to Be Surprised one of the finest items in their respective catalogs.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine