Review Summary: Blew my expectations away...
After hearing the song Hollywood, I was less than excited about Collective Soul's latest release. To me, it was just a representation of a band who didn't care about making any interesting music or trying to be unique in any way. After giving Afterwards a few listens, its evident to me that this isn't wholly true. Collective Soul has returned to create another worthy addition to their discography.
What the album shines in is, well, just about everything one could love about Collective Soul. First of all, the guitar work here is just plain brilliant. It never gets excessive, and the riffs stay interesting enough. There are even a few great solos thrown in here and there, such as in New Vibration. The album is chock full of great melodies to keep you tuned in, such as in All I Know and Georgia Girl. The songwriting pretty much never falters. If I had to pick a single song to make this album worth buying, it would have to be I Don't Need Any More Friends. Joel Kosche, the guitarist, is given lead vocal duties here, and really shines in this role. While there are moments of brilliance spread throughout this album, the peak of it all is right in the middle. It's catchy with a great riff and lyrics, what else could it need?
Generally when bands get to this point in their careers they start to lose their aggressiveness and become a bit more laid back, relying a lot on balads and such. This album has a few balads, but all of them are of great quality. Georgia Girl is the type of song that goes on and on but never loses its greatness. Adored is also very catchy, but never cheesy. Back to the aggressiveness; New Vibration and Persuasion of You show that they can really rock as hard as they did ten years ago. The band's simple formula of fast, rocking riffs and big choruses pays off as always.
My only complaint with this album is that the production is a little too poppy. The songs have an easy going sort of ambiance to them, rather than the rougher skin that initially brought this band to fame. The album isn't all that soft, but the way it was crafted makes it seem that way.
Overall, this album seems to be born of the same mold as Dosage and Youth. The melodies are memorable, and basically every track is just as decent as the one before it. This doesn't come close the their self-titled album in terms of sheer rocking power, but this is a much changed band. In the end, I'm not at all disappointed with Ed Roland and company's latest effort.