Sunday, September 13, 2009

Review: Collective Soul "Collective Soul (Rabbit)"

Collective Soul are about as proliferative as rabbits when it comes to writing catchy rock songs and delicate ballads. Believe it or not, Ed Roland and the boys have been at this now for almost 15 years, and their talent to fill their releases with potential hit after hit is admirable. While you couldn't find a radio station without them in their program list during the 90s, the new decade has met them with an undeserved cold shoulder. Now on Roadrunner Records, can Collective Soul once again dominate the charts?

Collective Soul marks their eighth release with another self-titled record (their 1995 sophomore record was eponymous); the 2009 release is consequently referred to as "rabbit", referring to the bunny on the cover that is the likely inspiration for the song "Fuzzy". At any rate, Collective Soul delivers another 11 tracks of what fans expect, with the same level of energy that has made their other seven albums so enjoyable. What is lacking are unequivocal hits.

The record begins with a rousing crowd-pleaser, "Welcome All Again", which probably goes over better at a concert than on a record. It is lyrically empty and just doesn't do much for me. "Fuzzy" had potential, but the guitar tone (yes, it sounds fuzzy - how clever) and the whistling rub me the wrong way. They just turn what could have been a cool midtempo rocker into a novelty track that is merely a sonic onomatopoeia. "Dig" is a solid track delivered with gusto, but just doesn't climb above the bar Collective Soul has passed previously. After this, they settle into a more comfortable groove and the chemistry comes together to deliver some new standards by which the band can be proud to be measured by.

"You" is a great acoustic-laced ballad, quickly followed by the punchy "My Days", which is a groovy throwback to their debut material. Another one-two punch hits us next, with the brilliantly shifting "Understanding" and the album's first single, the mellow but pleasant "Staring Down". Things get a little too average after that.

The new one by Collective Soul is like a sandwich - good meat in the middle, but it is slapped between two pieces of stale bread. In short, good...not great. Collective Soul has done better, but their latest is still more fulfilling than most of the garbage out there.

iPOD-worthy: 4, 5, 6, 7

Collective Soul on MySpace. Official site.

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