Review Summary: “Ursa Major” is an album that Third Eye Blind fans have mixed feelings about, and is a record that overall is very good, but doesn’t compare to their earlier work.
After waiting six years after “Out of the Vein” for a new Third Eye Blind album, it was easy to be skeptical about this new release. The first two releases, “Self-Titled” and “Blue” were gems, and were most largely responsible for the band’s fan base. The following release “Out of the Vein,” was another solid album from Third Eye Blind, but was less than they were capable of. Throughout those six years, it appeared that Third Eye Blind may be done. “Ursa Major” was rumored to be coming out in 2007, but was delayed until 2009. When the album finally did come out this year, the question was, could Third Eye Blind recreate the sound that made them so successful in the late 90s?
“Ursa Major” is the first half of a two-disc record; the second half “Ursa Minor” will be released at a later date. After listening to the first four tracks of “Ursa Major,” I found myself asking, “Could this be as good as Self-Titled?” The record starts off with a bang, with typical opener Can You Take Me
, and upbeat single Don’t Believe a Word
. The following two tracks, Bonfire
and Sharp Knife
utilize the mid-tempo style that was so apparent in “Out of the Vein.” These opening songs show flashes of classic Third Eye Blind, and give the band the best start since “Blue.” Following Sharp Knife
however, is where the record experiences a severe drop in quality. One in Ten
is possibly the weakest track that Third Eye Blind has written; it is a slow paced, piano driven piece that neither impresses nor hooks the listener. Summer Town
is a bouncy track that has a catchy chorus. The song is really spoiled however, by mediocre verses and an extended outro that seems a bit out of place. Why Can’t You Be
may likely be the highlight of the second half of the record, and while it is good, doesn’t really have the continuous playability that some of the other tracks have. Even Water Landing
has potential, with a nice acoustic intro and upbeat chorus, but really doesn’t amount to anything.
The highlights of “Ursa Major” however, are not to go unmentioned. Can You Take Me
is a return to “Self Titled” form, Jenkins’ lines are catchy as ever, “You said, Right here and right now is all that we're livin' for.” The track is one of the better debut tracks that the band has written and is really just a fun listen. The up-tempo style is successfully applied to single Don’t Believe a Word
, which is highlighted by sheer energy by Jenkins. Bonfire
may be the best track the band has written this decade, the acoustic riff is complemented beautifully by Jenkins’ opening lines, “A little early in spring, a bonfire ring, she's shivering alone. I bumped into you somehow.” The emotion of the track is truly incredible, and especially apparent in the final minute. Bonfire
however, does not separate itself from the rest of the album because of gem Sharp Knife
. Jenkins’ heartbroken lyrics are a highlight in Sharp Knife
; “Time tick tick ticks after me, my mp3 is out of juice, I wrote a song for you but what's the use, how did we get knocked so loose, knocked so loose.” Emotion here is also powerful, and again is one of the better songs in the band’s prestigious catalogue.
“Ursa Major” is an album that Third Eye Blind fans have mixed feelings about, and is a record that overall is very good, but doesn’t compare to their earlier work. There are flashes of brilliance here, especially in Bonfire
and Sharp Knife
, but most of the rest appears to be lacking whatever it was that made “Self-Titled” and “Blue” so good. This record however, gives Third Eye Blind fans hope that they could one day release a record as good as the first two.
Can You Take Me
Don’t Believe a Word
About to Break