Third Eye Blind front man Stephan Jenkins once led a semi-charmed kind of life: His band's self-titled debut enjoyed both commercial success and mild critical acclaim (I loved it!); he spent time as Charlize Theron's boyfriend; he got to indulge his pet hobby of R&B production, helming a cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Z-list Bay Area duo the Braids (which showed up on the High School High soundtrack and maybe an album I'd be surprised to find they made). These days, some of the charm has rubbed off: His band's third album, Out of the Vein, sounds painfully out of touch, lacking both the pretty-boy melancholy of the Coldplay set and the ugly-boy brute force of the nü-metal school; he's dating Vanessa Carlton, which might be illegal; and 3LW won't return his phone calls. But if Jenkins is bumming, he's making the best of it, because Vein manages that rare trick in post-relevance alt-rock of sounding distinctive. The plangent melodies, Jenkins' goofy white-person delivery, the silvery guitar tone (despite founding member Kevin Cadogan's dismissal following 1999's Blue)--it's all still here, and though it should, it doesn't remind me of Matchbox Twenty or Smash Mouth or Better Than Ezra at all. Jenkins might overstate the case in "Misfits," where he claims that his kind of people are "freaks," but he's right in thinking that his kind of life is unusual. It's called semi-success.
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