If someone told you he was listening to Third Eye Blind’s new album, you’d probably think he was stuck in the nineties. You’d also be wrong. While 3EB may have owned the nineties’ alt rock scene, the band hasn’t stopped dropping new tracks, most recently releasing the seven song EP We Are Drugs on October 7. Many bands tend to flounder in their attempts to stay relevant, trapped in the sound and era that gave them their fame. However, with the new We Are Drugs and Dopamine, which was released in the summer of 2015, Third Eye Blind demonstrates an astounding ability to adapt. Dopamine introduced the use of EDM in with 3EB’s classic alt rock sound. Sound like a stretch? Check out “Everything is Easy” and “Rites of Passage.” The meshing of the two genres produces a new, unique sound, while still remaining loyal to the band’s well known upbeat guitar riffs and strong vocals that mask heavy lyrics.
We Are Drugs continues what Dopamine started. The new EP will not immediately plunge you into the new sound and experiments, instead opening with the safe “Company of Strangers,” a solid alt rock piece with a loud and edgy guitar and exquisite use of a single profanity. The following “Queen of Daydreams” starts out with the usual sound, and about at the 3 minute mark, begins integrating the new use of synth, drums, and quick vocal repeats, a slight taste of what was heard on Dopamine. It is the production of that new and unique sound that makes Third Eye Blind deserving of sustained relevance in today’s music scene. If you’re still in need of a pick me up following the little jam sesh at the end of “Queen of Daydreams,” “Don’t Give In” has you covered. Using lyrics and vivaciously belted out “Oh’s”, lead singer Stephan Jenkins will make you feel important, powerful, and worthwhile: “Oh, it’s nice to meet you… I love you more than anything. Don’t give in.”
The EP takes an unfortunate turn for a couple of songs. “Isn’t it Pretty” will make you feel like you suddenly got lost in a Frank Ocean album, and that would be okay if you were listening to Frank Ocean singing, but you’re not; it’s an alt rock singer. If that sounds awkward to you, it’s because it is. Points for experimenting, though. “Sherri is a Stoner” is classic 3EB in terms of quirky lyrics only. It’s a little too heavy on the synth in the opening, and while it leads into a pretty rad guitar riff, the mediocre verses just can’t be buoyed by a sub-par chorus.
Fear not! “Weightless” will return you to 3EB alt-rock glory and bring you back up for the kicker – “Cop vs. Cell Phone Girl.” Sound politically charged? It is. Third Eye Blind has been extremely vocal in support of Black Lives Matter and has never shied away from espousing political views – including their recent trolling of the Republican National Convention this past summer. Third Eye Blind has addressed everything from addictions to hard drugs to suicidal thoughts hidden under their catchy hooks, and their ode to Black Lives Matter is no different. Don’t get too lost in the feel-good rock chorus though – the lyrics are sharp and pointed, and when the tension has built, Jenkins cuts it with a few witty lines. With “Cop vs. Cell Phone Girl” Third Eye Blind does what it does best – gives hope.
Fans of Third Eye Blind can remain hopeful, because it doesn’t seem like the band is going anywhere anytime soon. Check them out on December 8th at the Fillmore Silver Spring.
We Are Drugs gets a solidly average rating, mainly because of the inclusion of the mediocre “Isn’t it Pretty” and “Sherri is a Stoner.” Ditching these two songs and shortening the diluted 7 song EP into a strong 5 song EP would have called for a higher rating. I may also be biased with heightened expectations following Dopamine‘s release from last summer. Both products are more than worthy of a listen. Or a few. On repeat.