Let It Be sounds the way one would imagine being a teenager would sound: the anger, the confusion, the fury, the broken heart. And it should, since some members of the band actually were. This album is somewhat famously (infamously?) named after the Beatles album of the same name. And it’s not because the band thought their album had anything in common with the Moptops. Rather, it was the Replacements’ way of showing that nothing was sacred; it’s only rock and roll, after all, and everyone straps on their guitar the same way.
The Replacements, similar to their Minneapolis brethren Hüsker Dü, started out hardcore (or at least “punk”) and then moved a little more towards the mainstream center. But on Let It Be many of those punk elements still remain, especially songs like “Tommy Got His Tonsils Out”, “We’re Coming Out,” and “Gary’s Got a Boner.” They’re fast, fun, and funny, and help counter-balance the band’s more emotionally weightier material.
“Unsatisfied” was the first Replacements song that I ever felt a real connection to. My first Replacements album was Tim, which is a great album and was released after Let It Be, but for some reason never hit me emotionally. But it’s hard not to be hit by “Unsatisfied.” Being more about general dissatisfaction, “Unsatisfied” could be about anything, whether it’s your car breaking down or your girlfriend breaking it off. This universality, coupled with melody and Paul Westerberg’s classic throaty howl, equals something completely undeniable to any listener with a soul. And, as mentioned earlier, it’s one of those tracks where the band really started reaching out for a more different sound. “Androgynous” is quite a brave song for any band in the 1980s, being about those that don’t feel comfortable in their own skin. Or, more specifically, those that feel like they’re the wrong gender.
And then there’s “Sixteen Blue” and “Answering Machine.” They close the album, and sort of give you that feeling in your stomach when you wanted to talk to the girl you like but you didn’t; a bit of uneasiness, a dash of self-loathing, and a load of wanting to do things over. “Sixteen Blue” was written by Westerberg for bassist Tommy Stinson (who now plays with Axl’s Guns ‘n’ Roses), who actually was sixteen at the time. “Answering Machine” addresses the problem with a lack of human contact. Both have no resolution, which is fitting. Sometimes you have to let it be.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5