For a little while, Soul Asylum was a gratifying rock 'n' roll success story: After many years spent blasting out unpretentious Midwestern rock at smoky clubs across Americanot to mention an ugly experience with a major label in the early '90sSoul Asylum finally found a huge audience with the release of 1992's Grave Dancers Union and a few slick hit singles. Soul Asylum didn't get famous for its best material, of course, but all the underground-kids-make-good and hard-work-pays-off stories were kind of sweet. Unfortunately, the group's subsequent album, 1995's Let Your Dim Light Shine, was excessively polished, poorly received, and marred by the cheesy, awful single "Misery." And now, with the band caught in the midst of a backlash, comes Candy From A Stranger, which won't likely reverse Soul Asylum's fortunes. From lumbering rock songs ("I Will Still Be Laughing") to doofy jangle-ballads that could have been the work of a thousand Sister Hazels ("Close," "Blood Into Wine," "New York Blackout," "The Game"), Candy suffers from half-heartedness, not to mention an abundance of lame platitudes masquerading as lyrics. (From "Creatures Of Habit": "Look out, here comes one more morning / Habits form without a warning / Love it can be habit-forming.") The whole deal reeks of contract-fulfillment and going-through-the-motions, which is too bad: You'd think poor response to Dim Light would have directed Soul Asylum back to its raw rock roots; instead, it somehow wound up sinking further into VH1-land, and it never belonged there in the first place.