Some artists have a distinct style and often when you haven’t heard that particular sound for a while you realise it’s been missing. Everclear’s new album Black is the New Black was one of those albums. It wasn’t until I had heard the sound again that I realised “Ahhh that’s right, I’ve missed this”.
I’m not sure how or why or what happened, but to me it seems like Everclear’s main singer Art Alexakis was wondering where to go next after the band’s success in the mid to late 90’s that started with Sparkle and Fade and ended with Songs From an American Movie Part One: Learning How to Smile. Maybe the band just got stuck between the success of the pop-infused Volume One and the hard rock angst of Volume Two: Good Time for a Bad Attitude. Which style was most ‘them’ and which style appealed most to the Everclear fan base? What ever happened since 2000, Everclear have been filling albums with past glories and re-recordings of great songs, but great songs that have already been heard. Fifteen years later we have the ninth album from Everclear and it seems that they have finally have settled on the sound that is theirs. As the title Black is the New Black suggests, this album is designed to rock.
The first single from the album “The Man Who Broke His Own Heart” is almost a sound that harks back to Sparkle and Fade. The single is very biographical in its sound and, as with a lot of Art’s songwriting, has a slight dark inward twist with a pinch of hope as he cries “I don’t blame you for being angry / I treated you bad / You wasted time”
There are some songs on this album that could have been on any of the albums from their most successful era: 1994-2000. Songs “Complacent” and “This is Your Death Song” have very strong roots in the more ‘traditional’ Everclear sound, but 15 years down the track there are a whole bunch of songs that are designed for the pure desire to rock with. “You,” “Anything is Better Than This” and “Pretty Bomb” are sonically heavy and very much straight-to-the-point rock that would have been expected from the main singles that you may have heard from the band previously. This is more of a “Heroin Girl” style of album rather than “Everything to Everyone”.
For the most part this album has solidified the sound of the band, however, I wonder if it’s to the detriment of the light and dark that had been showcased on previous albums. It’s almost like the band has steered away from the fun aspect that made them stand out from the Nirvana and the Bush sounds that were all part of the 1990’s soundscape. This is Rock ‘n’ Roll people; we’re not too old to really have fun with our own angst and tortured souls.
This is a solid album and worth, at least, a listen. If you want to hear a good rock filled album then this is a good place to start, something familiar and something that has moved on slightly. This probably isn’t one of the ‘fun’ summer albums that Everclear have made before, laced with broken hearts and tortured souls to evenly dose the fact that it’s serious work rocking out in the summer and give the songs some added depth. Now that Everclear have solidified their sound again, let’s hope they are able to take a leaf out of their own book and Learn How to Smile.