Third Eye Blind
   
Ursa Major
   
   

Release Date: August 17, 2009
Produced by: Stephan Jenkins
Format: CD

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08/24/2009
Matt Rowe


 

Unless you’re Axl Rose, six years is a long time to wait between albums.  Third Eye Blind have kept a relatively low profile since 2003’s criminally underrated and under-marketed Out of the Vein.  They’ve kept touring and built up their fan base, making them one of the most requested acts on college campuses in the U.S.  For many fans, Ursa Major is a Chinese Democracy of sorts: many of these songs have been played live and leaked on the internet in various incarnations (“Bonfire” and “ Summer Town ,” I believe, date back to 2006).  And now after a couple years of release dates come and gone, the album finally hits the shelves and the band hasn’t lost their swagger.

Third Eye Blind have never denied their pop sensibilities, and that may have cost them some credibility with hipster critics, but sometimes we need unabashed pop/rock a la Cheap Trick.  Ursa Major is no different than any of the three previous outings.  The album is full of hooks and bright, shiny guitars.  Third Eye Blind add subtle dimensions and textures to their sound: late album highlights “Water Landing” and “Dao of St. Paul” feature backup singers that flesh out the songs very nicely.

Lyrically, Jenkins still remains as sharp as ever, combining poetic phrasing with blunt observation (the lyric “Sometimes a blowjob’s not enough” appears in the terrific ballad “Why Can’t You Be?”).  However, on the lead single “Don’t Believe a Word” Jenkins attacks former president George W. Bush and contemporary American society with Who-like crashing chords.  Despite the song’s catchiness and high energy, it does come about two years too late.  That’s only one of the minor flaws of Major, which is possibly the band’s best record yet.  The aforementioned “Bonfire” and “ Summer Town ” are insanely catchy and should be all over the radio.  Other highlights include the delicate “Monotov’s Private Opera,” the sure-to-be-live-favourite “About to Break” and the energetic opener “Can You Take Me?”

Critics and many of the general public have likely written the band off after a summer of being unable to escape the “doot doot doots” of “Semi-Charmed Life” twelve years ago.  But Ursa Major is one of the best albums of 2009 and with the right kind of promotion, could, and should, give Third Eye Blind a well-deserved second life.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 



 
     
     
     

 

 

   
 
     

 

Copyright 2002-2009 Matthew Rowe.
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