Third Eye Blind

Ursa Major

Written by: TL on 27/08/2009 14:36:16

Let me just start this review by saying that, if you don't already know the band it deals with, you've got some serious catching up to do, because Third Eye Blind are without question one of the very finest alternative rock bands to be born from the American music scene during the nineties. Having dominated airwaves especially in the states with smash hits like "Semi-Charmed Life" and being featured on more movie soundtracks than I dare to count, chances are that even if their name doesn't ring a bell to you, you will still have heard a 3EB song before.

The band is one that has had their share of problems, exchanging members here and there, dealing with a massive lawsuit from one of them, seeing their label cease to exist right after the release of their third album, and generally getting into trouble as a result of lead singer Stephan Jenkins being "the biggest mouth in music". In any case, for whatever reason, five years passed after the release of third album "Out Of The Vein", before rumours started about 3EB coming back, and preceded by "The Red Star EP", their first album since 2003, titled "Ursa Major" is now out and up for review here.

Popping it on, there's only possibly thought in your mind, and that is "Oh God is it good to hear Jenkins' voice again". Sticking to their trademark sound, 3EB open up the album with a couple of straight up comeback rockers in "Can You Take Me" and "Don't Believe A Word". The album then mellows down a bit with the poppier "Bonfire", and generally, the songs tend to variate between one of those two kinds, while there are of course also a couple of even mellower semi-ballads, similar to classics like "Deep Inside Of You" and "Narcolepsy".

And those few are the songs I feel most keen on highlighting. If you ask me, the very best moments of 3EB's music have always been when they've allowed their music to be soft, so that there is really room for you to notice Jenkins' lyrics. The way his pessimistic, and often controversial words contradict the easy going and seemingly cheerful music is what makes this band so special. Again, if you're a newbie, listen to my personal favourite "Slow Motion", off the band's sophomore LP "Blue", and you should be left with no doubt. When this band is best, it's music is as the title of one of their earlier EP's, a "Symphony Of Decay". This is also the case here, in quiet tracks like in "Why Can't You Be", which ask's the question that most people in relationships know they shouldn't, and also in "Dao Of St. Paul", featuring lyrics like:

"Well I confess, that so far happiness/ eludes me in my life/ it better hurry up, if it's ever to be mine"

Again, I can't quite explain you how the magic works, but it just does in the way Jenkins delivers these totally depressive lyrics in such a light hearted, yet resigned matter. It just brings your heart close to bursting in a simple and effective manner.

However, remaining objective for just a second, there are complaints to be uttered about "Ursa Major". It's rather obvious to point out that the rapping in the track "Summer Town" doesn't quite work on any particular level, but that's not all. Despite the joy one feels about hearing 3EB again, there is a lingering feeling that even the best of the stuff on "Ursa Major" isn't really in the same league as the band's classics. Obviously, the songs might still prove me wrong over time, but at the moment I find that unlikely. Still though, apart from the rapped track, this has a rock solid level of quality, is as easily accessible as can be, and like always, gives no reason for anyone to not like Third Eye Blind.

Download: Why Can't You Be, Dao Of St. Paul, One In Ten, Can You Take Me,
For The Fans Of: Quietdrive, Smash Mouth, Oasis, the 90's, college radio rock
Listen: myspace.com/thirdeyeblind

Release Date 06.07.2009
Mega Collider Records

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