Toad The Wet Sprocket started out in 1989, and have released six albums. Being a fan of 90's alt/rock, Toad the Wet Sprocket is possibly one of my favorite 90's band. I own five of their albums, and Fear is simply the best. Influenced by bands such as the Pixies and Sonic Youth, TTWS create their own unique style of grunge/alt folk music. When you hear 90's, Toad the Wet Sprocket is one of those bands that come to mind. Fear is sorely underated and is one of those albums that is excellent yet no one gives it a chance.
I hate to say this, but being released in 1991 Fear is the bands most heavily influenced grunge album. Fusing together folk rock, alt/rock, grunge, and jangle-pop Fear is an album that defines the 90's. Fear has a raw, rough edged feel. This is a poppy album, but similar to The Jesus & Mary Chain, TTWS combine catchy pop hooks and mix them with rough guitars and basslines. This works very effectively, all of these songs are catchy while they still keep a heavy rock edge. Fear goes through melancholy gentle moments, and some hard rocking moments. One song could be a soft gentle ballad and the next could be a raging, heavy rock song. This is nice because the album never loses replay value and is fresh with every listen.
The heaviest influence here would have to be folk rock. Acoustic guitars dominate a good portion of the music and create a raw, folk/rock feel. Influences of jangle-pop are also very evident. Poppy hooks mixed with soft acoustic guitars works well, the transistions are smooth and sweet. Sometimes TTWS turn things up a little and experiment while making a grungy distorted noise mess. I can't say I'm a big fan of this, but grunge mixed with jangle-pop, it works great and never loses its effectiveness. The music never gets really hardcore, for the most part Fear is a soft, gentle, folk/rock album. The thing that takes this album above a lot of early 90's albums is that Fear features something new with every track. All of these songs are flooding with emotion, but things get changed up but weather it's Dean's acoustic playing or Guss's bass, the songs sound different musically more than anything. If you are looking for a 90's rock, or folk/rock album than this is simply perfect.
Glen Phillips is the main vocalist and songwriter of Fear. Phillips has a smooth, reflective, somewhat rough voice. His voice is reflective and has a lot of emotion, but he never sings in a soft or whispering voice. Phillips sounds like a normal mid-aged vocalist. There is really nothing amazing that he does, but his vocals mix fine with Fear. His voice is a bit high-pitched and through he sounds extremely relaxed yet emotional. Phillips has a voice that reaches you and he sounds completely honest. He doesn't have an intense vocal delivery, his vocals is very calm. Phillips passes as a decent vocalist, he does a nice job on Fear.
Overall Fear is an album that defines the 90's. If I could classify this as anything it would have to be folk/rock. Catchy acoustic riffs and mandolin lines mixed with some raw electric guitars, the result is excellent. Fear is an emotion album, there are some depressing and upbeat moments. Musically this album strives. The acoustic guitars are catchy, and the electric guitars give a heavier rock influence. It's almost like Toad the Wet Sprocket mix together jangle-pop, folk/rock, and grunge. Glen Phillips has a strong, reflective, raw voice. It mixes good with the folkiness of Fear and although the vocals arn't essential they are solid. Fear is a unique adventure musically, and lyrically. It is just one of tose albums that defines the 90's, yet doesn't get the respect that it deserves.