No sparkle, just fade
With release dates separated by only a few weeks--and similar musical growth--it's fair to compare Nimrod and So Much for the Afterglow, the latest efforts from Green Day and Everclear, respectively. On Nimrod, Green Day was able to almost seamlessly integrate new instrumentation--horns, strings, acoustic guitars--as well as a more mature approach to songwriting into its arsenal without abandoning its original style or sound.
Everclear, on the other hand, experimented with many of the same ideas and saw its reach exceed its grasp. While there are a few creative touches on Afterglow (the a cappella Beach Boys harmonies that open the album are a nice trick), most of the things singer-guitarist-producer Art Alexakis (pictured) and the band try simply don't work. When strings and horns show up in songs, they seem out of place, almost as if Alexakis added them as an afterthought. Even more disconcerting is the band's use of drum machines and loops, devices that work fine for other groups, but here just sound like old men trying to keep up with the times. The result is an album that abandons much of the band's style in favor of studio tricks.
Part of the problem with this album is that the success of 1995's Sparkle and Fade and its hit single "Santa Monica" afforded Alexakis and the band too much time and money to spend in the studio. The band has shown that it can crank out quality material on a shoestring budget (1994's World of Noise was recorded for $400). It's time Alexakis got humble and went back to doing his Tom Petty-meets-Kurt Cobain impression. As he showed on You Got Lucky--a tribute to Petty on which Everclear's version of "American Girl" appeared--it's what he does best.
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Everclear performs at Deep Ellum Live with Our Lady Peace and Letters To Cleo on November 21.