Third Eye Blind
Dopamine


3.5
great

Review

by Green Baron USER (159 Reviews)
June 19th, 2015 | 63 replies


Release Date: 2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Everything is not that easy.

Third Eye Blind was one of the quintessential bands of the 90s. Everyone and their mother sang along to the “doo doo doo”s of “Semi-Charmed Life” and can instantly finish the line “I wish you would step back from that ledge, my friend…” Most people alive during the last twenty years could probably name you a few songs by the San Francisco-based band. Their poppy, upbeat brand of alternative rock was almost always backed by despondent, melancholic lyrics; it was their niche, and it was what made their 1997 self-titled debut one of the best of the decade. Even as their popularity waned, they still made quality music, and 18 years later, Third Eye Blind are still alive and kicking.

Dopamine, titled after the chemical inside the brain that activates during happiness, shares many qualities with its namesake. There are some upbeat, bouncy, energetic tracks that have the classic Third Eye Blind sound and feel straight from the 90s. Even at 50, Stephan Jenkins still sounds like he did in his prime, rattling off lyrics about heartbreak with tons of emotion in his voice. The band’s knack for counteracting energetic instrumentation with lyrics about lost love and post-breakup depression is still in full throttle. Although Ursa Major was wildly inconsistent, Dopamine is a better listen that benefits from better songwriting but suffers from a weak end and the inclusion of a few uninteresting songs.

Like their self-titled debut, Dopamine is a tale of two halves. The first few songs are bright, upbeat summer anthems in the vein of “Losing a Whole Year” or “Semi-Charmed Life”. The album starts off with “Everything is Easy”, a track that contains all the elements of a classic Third Eye Blind single. The hook is nothing short of catchy, and the same applies to its bridge. Only Stephan Jenkins can make the line “you’re gonna be so sore” sound so infectious, and it definitely proves why it deserves lead single status. The title track also makes a good argument, featuring a stand-out chorus, a hard-hitting drumbeat and a gorgeous falsetto. “I’m naked and pretty, but I know I mean nothing; I’m just drugs to you,” Jenkins cries with a voice as addictive as crystal meth. “Shipboard Crew” stands out the most, with lyrics revolving around an extended maritime metaphor and an ending that instantaneously draws comparisons to the timeless “Motorcycle Drive-By”. Even though Kevin Cadogan may not be the man working the guitar, the way the instruments pick up towards in the end plays well with Jenkins’ chaotic singing, culminating in the angst-ridden repetition of “I’m always a ghost” as the riff decrescendos into a piano outro. For the most part, the first few tracks fill their role as uptempo, peppy tunes, even if only a few stand out.

The second half of Dopamine is much slower with more ballads, providing a stark juxtaposition to the cheerful, upbeat beginning. After “Back to Zero”, none of the tracks on the album are written in a fast tempo; instead, there’s a larger emphasis on piano-driven songs and more vocal restraint from Stephan Jenkins. There’s an increased contemplative mood, allowing the poignant lyrics to shine a bit more instead of hide under the breezy melodies. The gradual crescendo from slow and quiet to an explosive climax is prevalent throughout, most notably on the repetitive but electric “Something in You” and the emotional “Get Me Out of Here”. It’s here where the album falters though; most of the second half is similar in structure, and the bland nature of certain tracks are underwhelming especially since they’re all placed next to each other.

For a while, fans of Third Eye Blind were convinced that they were never going to get a follow-up to Ursa Major – after all, it came out seven years ago, and the band’s promises of releasing new material never came to fruition until now. While Stephan Jenkins can still sing with emotion and write one hell of a song, there’s still something missing that prevents Dopamine from taking that extra step. There’s a clear division between the upbeat and the melancholic, and that causes the unmemorable tracks to stand out the most because they’re surrounded by other, superior versions of their kind. “Rites of Passage” and “All the Souls” pale in comparison to “Shipboard Cook” or “Everything is Easy”, with the quality gap extremely noticeable. Overall, Dopamine is a solid listen, but at this point it’s clear that Third Eye Blind’s best days are behind them.



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user ratings (87)
3.2
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Feather
June 19th 2015


5540 Comments


Hi Green Baron. Great review. Pos. Seeing these guys Tuesday :^)

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
June 19th 2015


15046 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

good b&

SPRFanOf5H
June 19th 2015


832 Comments


surprised nobody wrote a review of this til' now. good review Baron!

JWT155
June 19th 2015


14466 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Arguably one of my fav bands and their self titled is my favorite record of all time, I'm not a big fan of this so far (3-3.5). Album lacks the catchy guitar riffs of the past that was a signature to their sound, Jenkins attempt at political commentary fits poorly and I feel a lot of the songs I liked but left me wanting something more. I also feel that while i loved the lyrics of a young mid to late twenties Jenkins, his writing comes across as playfully juvenile which worked back in 1997, but for someone who graduated from Stanford in writing and prides themselves on their lyrics I wish he would have matured a little more over the years.

elcrawfodor
June 19th 2015


1264 Comments


Pos'd, only heard the s/t but I'll likely check this album out soon.

Brabiz
June 19th 2015


995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I don't think i could ever hate anything by this band

MyNameIsPencil
June 20th 2015


5369 Comments


Holy shit you're alive praise jebus
Good review though

Green Baron
June 20th 2015


24805 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I still reply do your snaps, don't I? Evidence enough

SowingSeason
Moderator
June 20th 2015


32877 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Nice review. I think this is pretty bland but then again I haven't really been a fan of their work since the mid 2000s

Digging: Coldplay - Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends

SonofSnow
June 20th 2015


1764 Comments


I keep forgetting they have material after S/T, need to give this a listen some time.

iamamanfromspace
June 20th 2015


1030 Comments


I feel like this album does get slower in the second half but never THAT much slower. Blade is like the only true ballad here

Ecnalzen
June 20th 2015


8806 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I was not aware this was a thing.

Todd1K
June 20th 2015


15 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I thought the songs on this album were hit and miss. The more I listened to it throughout the work day the songs I thought were weak have now grown on me. For this album being so far into Jenkins career I don't think you could expect much more from the guy. This album is a great listen from beginning to end for me. I grew up listening to Third Eye Blind and I'm glad I can continue growing with them. Nice review Green Baron!

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
June 21st 2015


42874 Comments

Album Rating: 3.6

this is prob their best since Blue



Get Me Out of Here and Back to Zero go hard

LepreCon
June 21st 2015


5459 Comments


Holy shit this blindsided (lel) me, will listen more when I wake up

JWT155
June 22nd 2015


14466 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I think overall this is more consistent than Ursa but lacks the punch some of the tracks Ursa had.

JWT155
June 23rd 2015


14466 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

This is growing on me.

JWT155
June 24th 2015


14466 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I really dislike all the musical references to David Bowie, Ziggy Stardust, John Coltrane etc spread out on the record.

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
June 30th 2015


25093 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I agree with JWT155. Ursa definitely had more punch to it but Third Eye Blind really seemed like they were comfortable with their sound on this album. There's a couple feel good tracks and one or two songs that I can jam to but there's also a couple forgettable tracks and one or two songs that are bland and generic. Their first album will always be my favorite but this was a good effort and definitely not too much of a disappointment.

JWT155
July 1st 2015


14466 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Agreed. This has grown on me a lot, part of me just wonders what this album could have been with more of a guitar presence.



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