Eighteen months made a world of difference for Soul Asylum. Their debut EP, Say What You Will...Everything Can Happen, arrived in mid-1984 and sounded clunky and unfocused, as if the bandmembers were still deciding what they wanted to do. Made to Be Broken followed in January 1986, and it was a major leap forward in every respect. If their debut documented Soul Asylum as they were looking for a way out of their hardcore roots, Made to Be Broken was an inspired collision of punk attitude, hard rock muscle, pop melodies, and lyrics that combined passion and introspection. Dave Pirner and Dan Murphy's guitars may have sounded good on the first record, but they were great here, crunching but tuneful, and their vocal harmonies brought a lift to the performances that flattered the melodies and boosted the energy. New drummer Grant Young was a massive improvement over original timekeeper Pat Morley, and he helped Soul Asylum tighten up their attack, as they cracked the code of their trademark sound. And while they were still tearing through screamers like "Whoa!" and "New Feelings," "Tied to the Tracks" and "Can't Go Back" found them taking their songwriting to a new level, merging sweaty firepower with a passion and emotional openness they couldn't summon in their semi-hardcore era. While the production still suggested the band wasn't working on an especially large budget, this time out producer Bob Mould and engineer Steve Fjelstad were much more successful in capturing Soul Asylum's spark on tape. Say What You Will... was the work of a band whose ideas outstripped its ability to execute them, but Made to Be Broken was the evidence that the group had learned plenty since then and put the knowledge to good use.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming