Album Review: Soul Asylum - Delayed Reaction

by Barb Abney

Album art for Soul Asylum's Delayed Reaction
Album art for Soul Asylum's Delayed Reaction (Album Art)

During a recent appearance on stage at Wits, Dave Pirner joked about the title to the band's 10th studio release: Delayed Reaction. He recalled sitting at a holiday table when it took him a few seconds to realize that somebody was trying to pass him a dish: he had a delayed reaction.

We've waited several years for a new record from Dave, Dan, Tommy and Michael, and that wait has certainly paid off. As I listened, I found myself repeating to myself, "this sounds just like a Soul Asylum record." And I don't mean that in an "Oh, these guys haven't changed their formula" kind of way. I mean that these guys sound as fresh as they did decades ago!

While their sound is familiar, it's not sloppy or dated in any way. It has a grounded feel to it, with just as much passion as before, but with more of the kind of focus that only growing up and having a family can give you.

I have always loved the way that this band could release a song that sounded like a pop gem but was simultaneously chock full of darkness, just as I love how some of the sweetest words on the record are nearly screamed.

A few of my favorites:

"Into The Light" is a delightful, sunny track which will have you singing "The best day ever just got better."

"The Streets" is nothing shy of a love song. A screaming appreciation for the woman who "keeps me off the streets."

The world is awful -- how can we face it? By killing each other, of course. Or at least that's the premise to "Let's All Kill Each Other." It's made even creepier by what sounds like a children's chorus singing those words. This is another one that will worm its way into your skull and have you singing along!

"Cruel Intentions" is a torch song ... or is it a crooner when sung by a male vocalist? Either way, this one brings it! Sultry lyrics with a moody backdrop and some beautiful piano work.