Review Summary: Third Eye Blind's best album and the soundtrack to a depressing life.
It was a lazy day in 2001 and all I wanted to do was to get out of my house and play basketball at the YMCA court. There's this theory I have about music and a personal context that explains its relationship with the listener. This was it. Just before we got on court, a friend of mine handed me a tape and told me to listen to the fourth song on it. It was a song called Jumper
I didn't play any basketball that day.
If there was ever an album that truly grew on me through my 'formative years' in music, it was 3eb's eponymous debut. I was fat, not obese or horizontally challenged... fat. They say fat guys have all the personality, but I wanted the chicks. Of course, losing weight wasn't an option. Meh! If it was, the whole world would be thin. And where was a middle class, defense kid in Mumbai to go when he didn't have the friends or the money to do anything well, fun?
There's an interesting story about 3eb. In 1996, after barely recording a demo, they suddenly found themselves opening for Oasis. Apparently they were told that they should be careful and get off stage quick 'cos the crowd would throw stuff at them. As things went, they were invited for an encore, after Oasis had finished their set.
Third Eye Blind
saw the pair of Kevin Cadogan and Stephan Jenkins at the pen, and this was probably the reason why this is 3eb's most successful release. Relationships, loneliness, sorrow, anger, love - the album effectively encapsulated everything I thought about, in static poetry. Kicking off with the hook driven, almost anthemic chorus of Losing A Whole Year
, Cadogan and Jenkins easily fly through verse and melody to create pop-Rock genius.
Lyrically, this is the best that 3eb have ever done, and now that Cadogan's left the band, possibly will ever do. On a heavy guitar driven song like Narcolepsy
, the band manages to string together meaning and melody in absolutely the most beautiful way. "I read dead Russian authors, volumes at a time, I write everything down except what's on my mind"
. Even the single Semi Charmed Life
(yes, the "Doo doo doo"
song that was the soundtrack of some Jackie Chan movie) is terribly precocious in terms of its meaning and more importantly, the meaning it is able to create.
The technique is pretty simple and is nothing new. Start/stop tunes with catchy choruses and strong hooks about sums up what musically this album is about. The post-grunge bandwagon was just about finding its feet at about the time this album was released, and with their professionalism, 3eb did manage to make a heavy mark.
The album is very guitar heavy, but Cadogan has ensured that none of the leads are out of place. The guitars complement Jenkins voice very well and the vocalist is able to jump from high-pitched shout to mellow ballad without much fuss. Even on Burning Man
, possibly the poorest song on the album, the bottle clinks and the heavy bass find equal place with reggae sensibility driving a song that just 'fits' well together.
At the close of the album we have three songs that summarise what Third Eye Blind were as a band, an what, had Cadogan not left, they may have remained. The Background
, a song about a dead lover, floats on a simple melody and slowly builds into a downpour of fierce guitar and crashing drums. It's an execution that defines the way this album gets better with time. The song is followed by the acoustic entrance of Motorcycle Drive By
which hastens into its fantastic buildup and subsequently its flawlessly abrupt collapse. The album closes with the enchanting God of Wine
, following the same formula as its predecessors, only a little more consistently. Third Eye Blind
is not an album that leaves you wanting more. Content is more the clincher.
There's not much you can hold against 3eb on this album. It starts excitingly enough, plateaus out nicely right in the middle, and ends on just the right note. Some songwriter once said that if he wrote the perfect album, it would be the soundtrack of his life. And though he clearly ripped off Dick Clark, he put forward a wonderful thought that 3eb executed impeccably.
Everyone's got their "go to" albums when things aren't going right or when well, everything else just sounds like crap. The sense of satisfaction or the feeling of relief it brings makes up for everything else that's missing or everything that's lost. "Music has no judgment, it won't judge you for the way you are"
. Times change and though the excess of weight has been replaced with an excess of music, this is one album that, for me, never gets old.