Third Eye Blind

Though Third Eye Blind hails from San Francisco, it has found success by merging the Northern and Southern California aesthetics; the band managed to extract the fun, relaxed elements of Los Angeles culture (minus the douchebaggery) and combine it with the more substantive, craft-focused elements of San Francisco culture (minus the pretentiousness). The group's best-selling but critically underrated eponymous 1997 debut featured breezy, enduring tracks that were deceptively simple and deliriously tuneful, and some of that spirit has been recaptured on the group's fourth album, Ursa Major.

Album highlight "About to Break" recalls the soaring fun (and emotional weariness) of that first disc, climaxing in a series of delightful guitar squeals. There are some bizarre lyrical choices here, but, for the most part, the songs are heartfelt and honest-feeling. The biggest problems here, however, are the hooks, which aren't nearly as mesmerizing as those which peppered the band's first two outings. Still, writing these guys off would be a mistake; one suspects they've got another California-bridging album or two left in them yet.

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