March 6th, 2018 | Album reviews

Restless EP

The Replacements’ tenure as an active recording band can be neatly divided into three distinct epochs: The impetuous, booger-flicking punk of Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out The Trash and Hootenanny; the gorgeous, though still slightly askew, indie rock of Let It Be, Tim and Pleased To Meet Me; and the sterling but sonically straightjacketed power-pop of the band’s final two records, Don’t Tell A Soul and All Shook Down. That final period of the ‘Mats recording career isn’t eulogized as often as the first two, but it’s obviously the one singer-songwriter Vug Arakas draws the most inspiration from on his new EP, Restless. Arakas’ paeans to youth evoke Paul Westerberg at his most wistful and straightforward. The title track is the clear standout here, an anthem for the worldweary replete with Springsteen-y “oohs” and a guitar solo that bridges the gap between classic pop jangle and contemporary Nashville twang. In addition to showcasing the formidable talents of a budding songwriter, Restless is brave in its unabashed embrace of modern pop production values. The result is a collection of infectious and concise rock songs that occupy that rare, middle piece of the Venn diagram separating artistic integrity from commercial viability.

—Morgan Troper