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Tuesday, March 2, 2010


SUBLIME (1996)
320 KBPS

Sublime's eponymous major-label debut arrived a few months after the band's leader, Brad Nowell, died tragically of a heroin overdose. As a show of sympathy, the album tended to be slightly overrated in some critical quarters, who claimed that Nowell was an exceptionally gifted lyricist and musical hybridist, but Sublime doesn't quite support those claims. The trio does have a surprising grace in its unabashedly traditionalist fusion of Californian hardcore punk, light hip-hop, and reggae. Switching between bracing hardcore and slow, sexy reggae numbers, Sublime display supple, muscular versatility and, on occasion, a gift for ingratiatingly catchy hooks, as on the hit single "What I Got." What they don't have is the vision -- either lyrical or musical -- to maintain interest throughout the course of the entire album. Sublime sags when the band delves too deeply into their dub aspirations or when their lyrics slide into smirking humor. The low moments don't arrive that often -- by and large, the album is quite engaging -- but they happen frequently enough to make the record a demonstration of the band's blossoming ability, but not the fulfillment of their full potential. Of course, Nowell's death gives the record a certain pathos, but that doesn't make the album any stronger.

1. Garden Grove
2. What I Got
3. Wrong Way
4. Same in the End
5. April 29, 1992 (Miami)
6. Santeria
7. Seed
8. Jailhouse
9. Pawn Shop
10. Paddle Out
11. The Ballad of Johnny Butt
12. Burritos
13. Under My Voodoo
14. Get Ready
15. Caress Me Down
16. What I Got (Reprise)
17. Doin' Time

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