Tommy Stinson Village Gorilla Head

To paraphrase Lou Reed, Tommy Stinson isn’t capable of being Paul Westerberg and he isn’t Chris Mars; he’s stuck with just himself. On his first-ever solo album, the future GN’R bassist and former Replacement tries in earnest to co-opt both of his former band-mates’ personas with limited and frustrating results. Village Gorilla Head really shines when Stinson forgets to try to be someone else. Stinson has always confused art with artifice (a trick he half-learned from Westerberg) since his time with Bash And Pop, and as before continues to rock hardest when he’s not making some grand statement. Songs like "Motivation,” "Bite Your Tongue” and "Something’s Wrong” may all crackle with the nervous energy and wise-cracking heartbreak of the best tracks on Westerberg’s Eventually, but whenever he tries to deliberately rip the Replacements ("Couldn’t Wait”) or Westerberg’s solo work, Stinson simply comes off as overwrought, miserable and worst of all, humourless. The ballads benefit from the higher production values ("Without A View,” "OK”) and strike a nice balance between sleepy vocals and heavy beats to make compelling if lackadaisical performances. The ghosts of all of Stinson’s previous projects lurk in the corners of Village Gorilla Head but the album works best when he goes back to what he knows best: slovenly, ragged rock that reeks of insecurity. Tommy Stinson has, at heart, always been a Replacement and when he doesn’t try to pander to anyone and just lets himself go, he is capable of some really great music. All he needs to do is realise that being himself is enough. (Sanctuary)