Post-grunge veterans Third Eye Blind return with their sixth record, one which lead singer Stephan Jenkins hoped to be more collaborative and less polished than the band’s most recent efforts.
They certainly got the first part right. We get interesting contributions from Alexis Krauss (Sleigh Bells) and Ryan Olson (Marijuana Death Squad and Poliça). Plus Billy Corgan came on board as an advisor. Or, as he is rather fancifully described, a ‘musical consigliere’. How much he affected the record is hard to tell as there is little here that resembles the Smashing Pumpkins or any of Corgan’s other projects.
As for the less polished part, this seems less successful. For the most part, the album is a collection of slick pop-rock. Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with that, of course, but it is fair to say a raucous rock record this is not.
What it is, initially at least, is a lot of fun. The opening title track in particular is one of the strongest efforts here with its infectious pop guitar hook, sing-a-long chorus, and a cool cameo from the aforementioned Krauss.
The next couple of tracks, The Kids are Coming and Ways, are similarly fun, the former being a bouncy pop-punk number, while the latter is a summery pop anthem with an eminently catchy chorus, which just about makes up for the risible lyrics – ‘I’m the first Motherf**ker to the cheese, and I am so eager to please’.
Unfortunately, by this stage, you have heard the majority of the highlights. Not to say the rest is terrible. More that there are a few that feel pretty throwaway and lack the same infectious energy of the opening trio. Take, for example, Take a Side, a track that feels like it is trying to be a rousing anthem against injustice, but instead, the tepid execution barely raises a pulse.
There is also one song that is memorable for all the wrong reasons – 2XTigers, an ear-scraping trap number with rubbish rapping and the kind of excruciating Auto-Tune vocals that would make Cher ashamed of popularising them. On some level, you have to admire an established act taking such risks. On the other hand, when the results are this bad, you wish they hadn’t bothered.
Screamer ends up being a passable pop-rock collection with a handful of decent tracks, some largely forgettable ones, and one of the year’s real clunkers.