Review Summary: Sweet sounds woven together into a grand opus.
Dulcinea is the fourth album released by Toad the Wet Sprocket. The band formed in the mid-eighties, and at the time of Dulcinea's release, had recently achieved popular success with 1991's Fear which includes the powerful single, "Walk on the Ocean." In 1994, the band continued to receive popular and critical success with Dulcinea, a brilliant album that is made of beautiful individual songs woven together perfectly to make one grand opus.
Prior to my most recent exploration into the album, it had been ten years since I had listened to Dulcinea, and I had forgotten how much I truly love this album. In 1994, I was smack in the middle of my teenage years, and I was moving beyond the idea that heavy metal was the only music that was worthy of my attention. I was beginning my exploration into the classics such as the Beatles, Cream, and Jimi Hendrix, so it is no surprise to me now that I would have welcomed a seemingly soft, but truly eclectic album such as Dulcinea into my musical repertoire.
While maintaining perfect musical harmony, the album explores significant literary and spiritual themes. Dulcinea refers to the love interest of Miguel Cervantes' "Don Quixote." "Don Quixote," the book, questions the value of certain ideals: sanity, love, friendship, etc. Similarly, TTWS's Dulcinea includes some of the same abstract ideas. "Windmills," is a clear analogy to the book, and describes a person's efforts to obtain seemingly impossible dreams, most likely love. The music moves the listener along gently through the wind, and the lyrics suggest that love is a dream. "Crowing" is another sweet and melancholy ballad about imperfect love.
Dulcinea is one of the most truly listenable albums that I can remember. Another notable piece in addition to "Windmills," which I discussed above, is "Fly From Heaven," an amazing opening song describing the possible viewpoint of Jesus' brother. It reminds me of "Heaven on their Minds," in Jesus Christ Superstar, where Judas is questioning the rise of Jesus' popularity and possible loss of ideals, just as my friends and I did of Lars, Kurt, James, and Jason when Metallica released the Black album…has the greatest metal band on the planet sold out to be popular? (Yes, another Metallica analogy. I can't help it.)
The singles on the album, "Fall Down" and "Something Always Wrong" were both popular on the radio at the time of their release and are two of the faster, peppier songs with sing-a-long choruses. "Stupid" and "Nanci" are a bit folk-country just to add to the mix of creativity. The album ends with "Reincarnation Song," which begins slowly and builds up to an awesome climax…truly a wonderful way to conclude an excellent album.
Dulcinea is Toad the Wet Sprocket's shining masterpiece. Every song is great, and every song flows into the other amazingly well. It weaves musical themes and musical sounds so perfectly, it is pure "sweetness" to the listener's ear.