Every band, so the theory goes, has at least one great song in them. San Franciscan quartet, Third Eye Blind, had theirs with 1997’s Semi-Charmed Life, a wickedly catchy, guitar-based, pop-rock anthem that was a worldwide hit and catapulted them to an astonishing six million album sales in the US.
2000’s Blue album was another seven-figure shifter but then things went a little pear-shaped when co-founder Kevin Cadogan was unceremoniously booted out of the band, mid-tour. This led to a messy court case that was only resolved last year, causing crucial momentum to be lost with the delayed release of this album.
With Out Of The Vein, lead singer Stephan Jenkins clearly revelled in having 100% control. The album was recorded in his own studio, he produced it, and, of course, he wrote or co-wrote every song. However, judging by the end product, a little more outside input would not have been unwelcome.
This is not to say that Out Of The Vein is not a good record, rather that it so often threatens, teasingly, to be a whole lot more than it actually ends up being. Third Eye Blind are at their best when they lose their inhibitions, rock out and allow the Cheap Trick influences to gush out. Opening track Faster is a case in point, with Jenkins’ pleasant singing voice adeptly switching between melodic verses and a rockier chorus while harmonised “whoa-ohs” provide the backdrop.
The triumvirate of Danger, Crystal Baller and My Hit And Run is the creative highpoint of the album. Danger is effortlessly cool pop-punk, Crystal Baller recalls the Cuts Like A Knife halcyon days when Bryan Adams was actually good, and My Hit And Run is the best track of all with its big chorus underpinned by cascading, nicely-toned guitar riffs.
Alas, for all of the positives above, there is an equal measure of mediocrity. Blinded is overly jangly, Star Spangly-bannered, college rock, Can’t Get Away is excessively jaunty pop with a plethora of vocal “bap-ber-bap-baps”, while Palm Reader is simply faceless. Jenkins, who is always reported in the press as a “poet” rather than simply a lyricist, also has a slightly irritating habit of trying to cram words into temporal gaps that aren’t wide enough. Sometimes less would definitely be more.
On reflection, Out Of The Vein is not bad, dislikeable or offensive. Whether that equates to not being exciting enough in the ears of the record-buying public remains to be seen.