The Replacements – Stink – EP

Stink – EP (1982)

B+ 

1. Kids Don’t Follow 2. Fuck School 3. Stuck In The Middle 4. God Damn Job 5. White And Lazy 6. Dope Smokin’ Moron 7. Go 8. Gimme Noise

 

More aggressive and less melodic than the debut album by somewhat equal measure, Stink at the very least defies its endearingly self-depreciatory title. I mean, can you imagine a bunch of humorless cads like, I dunno, Smashing Pumpkins or something, naming one of their albums Smashing Pumpkins Stink? Oh my god, if Sting named his next album Stink, my respect for him as a musician and a human being would automatically go up like tenfold.

Of course, we’ve always known that the Placemats were little snots of just the type who would actually name one of their records Stink. However, this EP, as much as it rocks, actually stands alone in the band’s catalog as they only time they sounded like they were actively trying, maybe a little too hard, to sound like disrespectful, juvenile punks rather than it, ya know, just coming naturally. One need only glance at obvious but still hilarious titles like “Fuck School,” “White And Lazy,” and “Dope Smokin’ Moron” to notice they were, if not pandering, then at least projecting an image rather forwardly. The music, as well as the lyrics, seem more forced than before in that they clearly adhere more closely to the established mores of hardcore than most of Sorry Ma, almost as if they had cred to establish more than anything else. This approach results in the blaring annoyances “Dope Smokin’ Moron” and “Gimme Noise,” which sound like the work of a much, much lesser band. Of which there have been many in history. Like Animal Collective, for instance. Can somebody explain to me what the big deal is with them? They sound like the Bee Gees having sex with a Tandy computer.

Fortunately, they’ve still got really loud guitars and Paul Westerberg writing and singing for them, so there are still way worse ways to spend 15 minutes than listening to Stink. To name just a few examples, eating a bowl of stale rice pudding, watching half of a rerun of Two and a Half Men, standing in kiddie pool filled with lukewarm tomato juice, and watching a 400 meter race run by geriatrics in need of hip replacements. Indeed, “Fuck School” and “God Damn Job” are gloriously hopped up and funny punkers. I sure hope there’s some truth to the rumor that Tommy Stinson, who was 15 when Stink came out, ceremoniously quit high school soon after the band recorded the EP by walking into his principal’s office with a boom box, blasting “Fuck School,” and then walking out, never to return. Bet we all wish we coulda done that at one point or another, huh? Meanwhile “White And Lazy” is an amusingly raw take-off on Chicago blues, while “Go” is an out-of-place but all the more intriguing for it experiment in aching heart, mid-tempo arena rock, featuring Bob Stinson pulling out his most convincing Guitar Hero-style fretwork. I guess it’s a sign of creeping maturity, but they never really attempted anything quite like it again.

Still, the best song by some margin is “Kids Don’t Follow,” which starts out with an actual recording of a bumbling Minneapolis police officer attempting to shut down a rowdy Replacements show and kicks into high gear immediately thereafter. It’s well-structured and arranged enough to almost seem like the work of mature adults, but with just the right amount of “angry” chords to remind us that these are still hardcore kids while indicating that they wouldn’t stay that way for long.



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