Nobody ever expected Everclear to rewrite rock history,
but the band used to be good at what it did. The band's first
couple of albums were full of punk-lite anthems with catchy hooks,
grungy guitars and vaguely edgy lyrics alternately about singer
Art Alexakis' absentee dad and about the overdoses of his
friends and lovers.
Radio loved it and Everclear went into heavy rotation on bar
patios starting in the summer of 1995, providing a tolerable alternative
to Hootie and The Blowfish and the Dave Matthews Band.
It seemed if they could just keep up the good work leading grunge's
second wave, they were destined for the superstardom Alexakis
thought he deserved. Sadly, it seems the band closed that book
with its 2004 greatest hits album. Alexakis has dumped the other
two guys, their grungy guitars and any sense of edginess. They
were replaced by four new guys and 12 pieces of uninspired power
Alexakis is hyping his new sound as an homage to his early musical
loves, but the Cheap Trick and Big Star territory
has long been heavily mined. The new Everclear sound is more like
a poor man's Fountains of Wayne or a sober man's Nada
Surf. My first run through this album was as background noise
while working on other projects. The profane spoken-work intro
and relentless cowbell of "Hater"
caught my ear as a particularly low point on a rather dull album.
Only later did I learn this was the first single and it's on the
new Van Wilder soundtrack.
At least the song is attention-getting, if for the wrong reasons.
The rest of the album, though not awful, is just dull and mediocre.
The main theme of the album seems to be rejecting hate and taking
a positive look at the world. "Now" is about his recovery
from a year of "Mexican freefall." "Under the Western
Stars" has something to do with sex, log cabins and rejection
but it ends with a triumphant "I can do anything." Sadly,
Alexakis seemed better when he was a hater.
Other tracks don't even really have a narrative. "Shine"
mostly just repeats "Shine, ... Open up and show the freak
inside," leaving me picturing some Pixar penguins dancing
to the song.
If that weren't bad enough, the album seems to be endless. After
the 12th overly long track is a minute of silence, then not one,
but two of the most pointless and annoying bonus tracks since
early Pearl Jam. First, a child seems to be groaning, then
incoherently babbling and repeating "I don't like the way
that you act to me that night." Finally, the band rips into
another giddy power pop number.
- Steve Graham
1. Under the Western Stars
5. Drama King
7. Taste of Hell
8. Portland Rain
9. Shameless Use of Charm
12. Your Arizona Room
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