Review Summary: Welcome to the Joey Eppard show.
Somewhere deep in Joey Eppard's cellular structure lies a code; a musical algorithm ingrained in his very being. This genetic mishap seems to have transformed him into a mysterious creature of sorts - he's been blessed with a positively remarkable set of vocal chords, otherworldly acoustic guitar skills and the ability to write ridiculously great songs in nearly any genre. However, his giftings are not without a price. With the exception of 3's debut album Paint By Number
and his solo record Been to the Future
, his talent for writing albums has been hemorrhaged by his incurable desire to write poppy singer-songwriter tunes. When 3 switched gears into progressive mode with Wake Pig
and The End Is Begun
, he and the band chose to include poppier, stranger cuts like 'Live Entertainment' and 'One Way Town', which, in retrospect, was a stupid
idea, as the brooding theatrics of each album was lessened significantly by the out-of-place songs. But they weren't bad songs; not at all - they just didn't belong
on said records. Now with Revisions
, 3 seem to address the issue of out-of-place songs: for the first time since Eppard's solo album in 2002, 3 have shifted their focus from progressive music back to a more poppy, basic sound. Revisions
, while not quite their best work, manages to be both a homage to the band's roots and the climactic release of Eppard's pent-up need to write poppier music.
If you've listened to any of 3's earlier work (or Joey Eppard's solo work, for that matter), you'll recognize plenty of the songs featured on Revisions
. Suitably remaining true to the album's namesake, the album is a set of songs that have been dredged up from the band's vault and revised
, giving them new life and a new audience. Plucked straight from 2003's Summercamp Nightmare
, the early-Radiohead sound of 'Fable' is brightened up by a fuller production and improved ten-fold by Eppard's consistently improving vocals (his vocals are undoubtedly the album's strongest element, for a change). Songs such as opener 'Anyone Human' and the completely instrumental 'Lexicon of Extremism' retain the band's haunting sound while shamelessly casting the spotlight on Eppard's impressive acoustic guitar work. Quite simply, Revisions
completely succeeds at creating what is essentially just a 'fun' record -- try not to become completely immersed in the layered bridge of 'You've Been Shot' or the quick tempo gallop of 'Rabid Animals'.
Unfortunately for 3, any band member on Revisions
whose name isn't Joey Eppard is easily forgettable. While Paint By Number
was an album that contained equal performances from every musician despite it's poppiness, Revisions
fails to see the band sharing the spotlight and working cohesively. Billy Riker's guitar work has become wholly indistinctive (in contrast to his rather unique style on The End Is Begun
), bassist Daniel Grimsland sounds conspicuously like a session musician and Chris Gartmann's drumming, while absolutely fine, is absolutely unremarkable. While the heart and soul of Revisions
is Eppard's guitar work and vocals, the rest of the band completely neglected to give the album a backbone; it's spineless and a bit uninspired far too often. The lyrics on Revisions
probably should've been revised and freshened up as well -- surely they could've fixed up lines like "To get a car you need a job, but to get a job you need a car
". Yet the biggest fault of Revisions
is how generally apathetic it feels; it doesn't just lack the musical punch of their more recent work, but it also seems to lack the sincerity.
So, yes, Revisions
is basically The Joey Eppard Show and little more - it provides great acoustic guitar work, spectacular vocal work and plenty of hooks. While the loss of full-band cohesiveness is disappointing and the general sense of apathy is a bit of a downer, Revisions
is still a lot of fun. It's not their best work, it could've been better, but it is still absolutely worth a listen.