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Album Review

April 28, 1996|Elysa Gardner

PAUL WESTERBERG

"Eventually"

Reprise

* * *

The most damning praise that you could give Paul Westerberg's second solo album is that it's tasteful. Those who fondly remember the Replacements as the ultimate garage-rock band may be a little put off by the relative lack of sloppy, boozy irreverence here.

But what ultimately made the Replacements a great group is that Westerberg wrote great four-minute pop songs--and in that respect, little has changed. "MamaDaddyDid" is a classic post-Byrds gem, with a lovely, wistful melody and shimmering guitar riffs. "Time Flies Tomorrow" is equally poignant, with bittersweet piano chords reflecting the lyrics' subtle ambivalence.

Even if Westerberg isn't the hard-drinking enfant terrible he used to be, he hasn't lost his edge. "Century" combines bouncy, Beatle-esque hooks with smirking guitar chords and a perceptible sense of punk ennui. Likewise, "Ain't Got Me" and "Trumpet Clip" peal forth with a sly, bracing vitality worthy of his old band. Apparently, Westerberg has rejected the polar rock cliches of burning out or fading away in favor of a less celebrated option: aging gracefully.

New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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