Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Sublime: Sublime [Gasoline Alley/MCA, 1996]
If you've resisted, I understand. They're surf punks and ska boys and heroin addicts, each a reasonable ground for summary dismissal. Their indie albums are nothing special. Not only that, one of them is dead. The prognosis is so dismal that it takes time to hear that this ska is evolving toward sinuous skank rather than reverting to zit-popping thrash, to ascertain that the tunes are simple rather than pro forma, to believe that Brad Nowell writes like he's got a life even if he ended up wasting it. Junkies who retain enough soul to create music at all are generally driven to put their brilliance and stupidity in your face. Nowell is altogether more loving, unassuming, good-humored, and down-to-earth--or so he pretends, which when you're good is all it takes. A-