Review Summary: Underrated Alt Rock Gem.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
I must come clean about my motives for reviewing this album. I have been listening to this album for good, solid ten years at this stage and have remained somewhat annoyed that it is not more popular. Only my friend Joe and I seem to have heard it in my circle of friends and this is evidently a microcosm of the albums reputation at large. Therefore, this review is my feeble and probably pointless attempt to draw some attention to one of the best alt rock albums of the post grunge era.
Unified Theory were somewhat of a supergroup in composition. Bassist Brad Smith and guitarist Christopher Smith were members of Blind Melon, drummer Dave Krusen played on Pearl Jam’s classic Ten and singer Chris Shinn, well I am not too sure what he was doing before Unified Theory, but I am sure he did it with flair. Forming in 1998 the band released one self-titled commercially unsuccessful album in August 2000 before breaking up due to delays in recording the follow-up.
In August 2000, mainstream rock was in the mire. Scott Stapp was chest beating his way to the top of the charts with Creed, Fred Durst was about to unleash Limp Bizkits hot dog flavoured water all over the world and Korn were still on a high after floating to the top of the nu-metal bowl. The music was knuckle headed, cynical and devoid of self-awareness. Only Deftones flew the flag for thoughtful music with decent melodies but they were being smothered commercially by their dumber, less subtle peers. This is perhaps not the best atmosphere into which to release your psychedelia tinged debut but that is exactly what Unified Theory did. In retrospect, this may well have been their downfall and that was very unfortunate as this summery album is pretty, loud and fun and as such is in direct conflict with the order of the day.
The album itself begins as it means to continue. The first song Cessna sets the template from which Unified Theory rarely deviate from for the course of the album. A mid tempo alt rock song showcases the bands love for pyschedelia in the swirling sound effects throughout the song and the lyrics such as “Flight, oh captain please remember my name for the clouds, Safe, with wings of wax, I trust in the sun over me, Fast I’m so elated, days I have saved on these wings, Choice, the chair I’m strapped to, falling my way into God.” Now I’m not suggesting this is any kind of lyrical genius but they are certainly evocative and paint a vivid image.
Now normally an album that repeats the same formula for the majority of its 12 songs would be a tedious, boring, long listen but Unified Theory actually benefits from this. The albums coheres seamlessly and this repetition is successfully mainly due to the memorable riffs and vocals. Both soar around solid drum and bass work. At the end of the day, this is no classic album but a solid alt rock album with memorable hooks and vocals to keep the listening relaxed and interested.