Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Soul Asylum: Let Your Dim Light Shine [Columbia, 1995]
Welcome evidence that Dave Pirner may not be the Bob Seger of his generation--because where in the late '70s temptation came in the form of classic rock, in the mid-'90s it lies along pop's primrose path, a development that should offend only grunge nostalgiacs. The tunes of these neatly crafted songs are up top, their "roots" submerged the way roots usually are. And the often funny, sometimes fantastic lyrics are so smart you'd almost think Pirner knows how cheap he got away last time. After lingering over idioms like "don't get my hopes up" and "left to my own devices," he moves on to vignettes in which his pervasive depression connects to something less collegiate than existential angst--the hard, sad lives of other people, several of them women seen not as objects of sex or romance, just struggling humans like him and me. B+