Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Distinctive Afterglow Of Catharsis: Everclear's So Much For The Afterglow

The Good: Distinctive sound, Good lyrics, Fun to listen to
The Bad: Repetitive both thematically and musically
The Basics: So Much For The Afterglow is a surprisingly good album that doesn't hold up to repeated listenings, not because of its themes, but because of the repetitive sound of the tracks.

Every now and then, an artist does therapy and is able to sell it. So Much For The Afterglow by Everclear has many moments where it "reads" like a session of Art Alexakis's therapy. Indeed, the almost 49 minute disc seems largely like an attempt to express raw emotions and stories related to his own life.

Not that that's a bad thing.

In fact, the strength of the album is in the lyrics and following from track to track toward catharsis, the release of all of the pent up anger and loss that has been building on the early tracks. The album is quite expressive without being explicit and it works quite well as a telling of a man's life. How autobiographical is the album? I don't know, you'd have to ask the band. However, So Much For The Afterglow does tell a story, whether of an actual person or a character, there's a story here.

If you have never heard Everclear on the radio, they are a rock band, not so much pop as actual rock. They are strong on guitar, drums and reasonable rhymes. To be honest, other than classifying the band as rock, there's no further classification other than "Everclear." Everclear has a very distinctive sound that is based on their use of guitars, Art Alexakis' vocals and a balance of refrains. It is quite distinctive.

The distinctive quality, however, becomes something of a rut on So Much For The Afterglow. The songs have very little diversity in sound. Musically, they are very much a balance of the vocals, guitars and drums. The tend to keep the same balance and form, so there is little variation in how the three elements are used. If you've heard an Everclear song on the radio, you know what to expect. The songs on this album all sound like that.

What does that mean? It means, if you don't like how "Wonderful" (which is not on this album) sounds, you won't like So Much For The Afterglow. It means, after you listen to the album once, you'll be thinking that "I Will Buy You a New Life" sounds an awful lot like "Amphetamine." It means that if you don't like the first three tracks, odds are, you're not going to dig this album.

It also means that if you DO like the sound of Everclear, this album is for you. They are doing what they do and they're doing it well. If you like rock music, this is a good album, with lyrics that are more intelligent and emotive than most rock bands these days.

Whereas Matchbox Twenty creates musically diverse albums with a running theme (loss and loneliness), Everclear's So Much For The Afterglow is a musically homogeneous album that explores multiple themes like hope ("Amphetamine"), paranoia "White Men In Black Suits") and hate ("Father Of Mine" and "Like A California King"). Which is better? Well, I liked So Much For The Afterglow, but not enough to add it to my permanent collection, whereas I listen to Mad Season By Matchbox Twenty frequently and I purchased it on sight when it was released.

The album's best track (which is hard to say because they tend to sound so much alike) is "I Will Buy You A New Life" (which if you like on the radio is almost worth investing in this album for and why it was a close call adding this one to my collection) and the weakest link is "Ataraxia (Media Intro)" because after listening to the album three times in a row it left no impression on me one way or another.

For other works by similar artists, please check out my reviews of:
Soul To Squeeze (single) - Red Hot Chili Peppers
No Name Face - Lifehouse
Mer De Noms - A Perfect Circle


For other music reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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