The Good: "A Long December" . . . honestly, the one track.
The Bad: Whiny, Musically and lyrically unspectacular
The Basics: If you enjoy good music with intelligent lyrics and a unique and impressive sound, this album is not for you. One magnificent track does not save this album.
I've never liked Counting Crows. After the first few listens to their single "Mr. Jones," some years back I decided I couldn't stand that song. I wasn't impressed and I figured - and hoped - they would be on and off the charts rather quickly. A few years longer, I was amazed to discover the song I longed to hear every time it was on the radio, "A Long December," was by this band whose music did not appeal to me. "A Long December" was my reason for listening to the Counting Crows album Recovering the Satellites.
I shall not make that mistake again. If Counting Crows ever happens to produce a single I find wonderful, I shall find it as a single and enjoy it that way.
So, what's the deal with Recovering the Satellites? It's just not good. Not extraordinary at all. It's not new, it's not terribly intelligent or articulate, it's not impressive on a musical level or a lyrical one.
I suppose that ought to be evident by a group that has a song that degenerates into "Rain, rain go away . . ." (which "I'm Not Sleeping" does). The truth is over half the album is the lead singer (Adam Duritz) whining. The lyrics are full of lament and his tone is simple, whining. He reminds me of the kids in the back seat complaining, "Are we there yet?" most of the tracks have the same tone, melancholy, and, well, immaturity.
None of the lyrics (outside those in "A Long December") are terribly clever or engaging. Or, if they are, they are glossed over by the annoying nature of the whiny sound. "Goodnight Elisabeth" is an unrelenting song that goes on and on saying goodnight to Elisabeth without doing much else. Were I Elisabeth and I cared for the singer, I couldn't sleep given the sadness he sings with.
There are no tracks as upbeat as their overplayed track "Mr. Jones," which is not on this album. If your sole experience with Counting Crows is that irksome track, you'll be especially disappointed with this album and its lack of tunes you can simply rock out to.
The redeeming track on Recovering the Satellites is "A Long December." While I usually complain about artists blowing their wad and putting their best track first, I now begrudge Counting Crows for doing the opposite. Forcing listeners to wade through 12 annoying, whiny, and just plain bad tracks to get to the magnificent "A Long December" (which is the album's penultimate track) is sheer torment.
Conversely, "A Long December" does what none of the other tracks achieve. It's a lamenting track that does not come across as whiny or needy. It expresses loss without seeming tiresome or overdone. The lyrics are smart, the music fits the song well and it's a welcome relief to the rest of the album.
The only reason to listen to this pop-rock album is for "A Long December" and then only when you want to revel in your sadness, as opposed to hearing the crows whine. The worst track is "Miller's Angels."
For other male bands, check out my reviews of:
Opiate - Tool
Forty Licks - The Rolling Stones
Mother’s Milk - Red Hot Chili Peppers
For other music reviews, please be sure to visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!
© 2011, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.