Bash & Pop – Anything Could Happen – New LP
The introductory rave-up “Not This Time” kicks open the saloon doors as vigorously as “I.O.U.” did back on Pleased to Meet Me, while the title track’s cathartic, shout-it-out hooks are evocative enough of a certain Tim touchstone that you could rename it “Bastards of Old.” And in the raw acoustic confessional “Can’t Be Bothered,” he updates the early-20s angst of “Unsatisfied” for middle-aged malaise: “The worst things seem to happen in threes/We used to the flip the bird until the bird turned to a dream/Now we can’t be bothered with any of that.”
But more than any specific Replacements record, the tone and temperament of Anything Could Happen most closely recalls Paul Westerberg’s underrated 1993 solo debut 14 Songs, which furthered his maturation as a songwriter while reapplying some of the grittiness that the latter Replacements records smoothed over. (“On the Rocks,” in particular, feels like an unsubtle echo of that album’s “World Class Fad.”) As a vocalist, Stinson is like a Westerberg who decides to call it a night after just three beers—he may not plumb the same dark-hour-of-the-soul depths as his former bandmate, but he can effectively render a relationship’s wreckage with a single brushstroke (from “Anybody Else”: “You’re trying to make a painting a Picasso/Bought a box of sidewalk chalk”) or self-deprecating sentiment (“I’m the wish that won’t come true,” he admits on the honky-tonk heartbreaker “Breathing Room”).
Anything Could Happen is an album of upbeat songs about feeling down and lucid observations about getting fucked up, split evenly between ragged mid-tempo struts and countrified, come-down laments. And for Replacements fans of a certain vintage, it offers a hit of nostalgia more potent than you’ll get from scrolling your high-school buddy’s Facebook list. But for Stinson, Anything Could Happen is less an exercise in reliving the past than coming to terms with it, having survived being in the world’s most intoxicated band, the untimely death of his brother, divorce, and working for two of rock’s most notorious control freaks. That experience has taught him that, even in life’s darkest moments, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it’s just a cigarette ember. On “Anytime Soon,” Stinson lays down a smoky, miserable-bastard blues to remind himself to quit being such a miserable bastard: “Feeling sad and lonely, yes I know I’m not the only,” he sings, before adding, “you won’t see me dangling from these rafters anytime soon.” Because as Stinson’s unlikely journey from drunk-punk underdog to arena-rock ringer has shown, anything can indeed happen.