Review Summary: Yes, there actually are a few solid mainstream albums that were released around 1999, and Vertical Horizon's Everything You Want is one of them.
If you live in the United States and have watched your television within the past three years, you have most likely seen a commercial for one of those NOW!
rip-off compilations, namely, Buzz Ballads
. The compilation showcases everything that was wrong with music in the late nineties, featuring “classics” from generic bands such as Lifehouse, Filter, and Staind. The few good songs that managed it on there came from bands of the middle part of the decade, such as Oasis and Bush. However, one of those so-called generic alternative rock bands did manage to produce one good album, that band being Vertical Horizon. Their 1999 smash single Everything You Want
was featured on the dreaded compilation, but it is distinctly one of the best songs on the album. Okay, so any band can write one good song, who cares? Well, Vertical Horizon managed to be a good band for one year, and one year only. During that year that they wrote the album Everything You Want, and actually wrote more than just one good song. Even though the band doesn’t quite escape the far too cliché sound, they do manage to produce some solid songs.
Obviously everyone has heard the title track. After all, it was a #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1999, and at the time, a rock group reaching that position was a big deal. The track Everything You Want
pretty much took late nineties rock, filtered out redundant garbage and combined it all into one song. Pretty much no one can argue with a love song that features a catchy lead guitar line during the verses matched with an equally catchy chorus. Sure the lyrics weren’t always a strong point, featuring some unimaginative lines like “You never could get it/Unless you were fed it
”, but it’s the melody that counts, right?
But enough about that, everyone knows that one song does not make up an entire album. Everything You Want offers the standard gut-wrenching ballad in Best I Ever Had
, which deals with the end of a relationship and the sorrow that accompanies it. The song keeps with the standard idea of a clean guitar only intro until the chorus, in which from there the song slowly builds adding some light drums, and eventually combing in the bridge until it kicks it back down for the last chorus. While often I find that approach mind-boggling, as it is seemingly pointless that a song builds up yet has no explosion. Best I Ever Had, however, echoes the theme of depression that the lyrics create, mirroring the feeling that just when it seems like there is a light at the end of the tunnel, it always seems to be taken away with the flow of the song.
And of course, every late nineties rock band had to have the moody pseudo-rockers that litters their albums. Vertical Horizon continues that trend with Finding Me
. Complete with the clean guitar pulling off some open chords backed with some distorted power chords, and the music at times is just as generic as every other band around at that time. Luckily, Matt Scannell does not produce equally stereotypical vocal melodies, as it is those melodies that often times save the band’s songs from completely fitting the terribly boring 90s alt-rock mold.
Although several of the more upbeat songs like We Are
and Send It Up
manage to stand out by mixing things up, Send It Up in particular having some of the strongest riffs on the album, and the multi-layered outro to We Are adding some flair at the end of a strong rocker. Give You Back
is another solid ballad, but it takes a big page out of the Goo Goo Dolls' songwriting, as if it would be a second-tier song on Dizzy Up The Girl or Gutterflower. All of You
, however, suffer from incredibly poor songwriting, giving the feeling that any high school band could have written the tracks. Even the second biggest hit off the album, You’re A God
, reeks of those generic ‘softer verse/bigger chorus/etc’ qualities, and is only saved by more of Matt Scannell’s ridiculously catchy chorus melodies.
Everything You Want does feature a strong array of tracks, but for an album to be considered a classic, it needs more variation than the standard moody rockers and ballads. Everything You Want, Best I Ever Had, and Finding Me are all excellent reasons for someone to pick up this album, but not everyone else will enjoy the clichés that some tracks are stricken with. Sadly, after this album, the band would never reach its previous level of popularity, fading away with the rest of the bands that made up the latter part of the decade. Fortunately, Vertical Horizon can claim that they wrote one decent album
, rather than just one decent song