One album held dearly in, what I assume is my generation, would be Third Eye Blind’s self-titled debut. Released in 1997, this album pretty much dominated the alternative music world, and no one could escape its catchy grasp. There were five singles, three of which were in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. But, of course, you already know this. “Semi-Charmed Life”, “Graduate”, “How’s It Going to Be”, “Losing a Whole Year” and “Jumper” were the tunes that resonated within the confines of adolescent youth in the late '90s, and to this day, everyone knows the songs like they know how to ride a bicycle, or tie their shoes. And if you don’t know them or that, well, it isn't hard to catch on.
I got to see the band perform this past year and they opened with the intimate song “Motorcycle Drive By”. A fan favorite and one that’s so potent and very relatable that it becomes sort of timeless. I gotta admit before I get too deep into the review that this album alone saved me from the hardship of a major breakup. (Clichéd, no???) Not to say that other artists haven’t helped in the same way (Bob Dylan, Off with Their Heads, Radiohead, Deftones...), but there was just something about this album that stood face to face with my emotions and got everything perfect, right down to the horrible details.
Singer/songwriter Stephan Jenkins knows how to write a damn good song, and with tracks like the abovementioned “How’s It Going to Be” and “Jumper”, you should understand why that statement rings true. But behind this album was the original creative force of other members: Kevin Cadogan on guitars, Arion Salazar on bass, and Brad Hargreaves on drums. These members complemented Jenkins very well, helping him flesh out the tracks and make them seem more than just academic, journalistic diary pieces. Songs like my favorite jam “Narcolepsy”, “Burning Man” and “London” were rockin’ tunes, carried along by the tight musicians. Everything seems organic, never holding anything back and letting it all come out.
There were some trademarks on this album that one can remember very well, such as Stephan’s sort of rap stylings on "Semi-Charmed Life" and how the first half of the album almost feels like one long track, divided up by the few seconds before each song. The flow is amazing, never seeming to stop once it’s started. The second half proves to be the divider, though, as the singles are long gone and the “filler” tracks make way. But wait, something is different here. These songs aren't as bad as some might think. In fact, they might be even better, seeing as how they are radically different from those catchy singles. Not having the ultimate hooks that makes one remember certain lines, the songs are more aggressive and steadfast in their execution. The highlight is definitely "Motorcycle Drive By", my other personal fave. Words like, “Visions of you on a motorcycle drive by, / The cigarette ash flies in your eyes / And you don't mind / You smile / And say the world doesn't fit with you” and “There's this burning / Just like there's always been / I've never been so alone / And I've never been so alive” make it known that lyrics are just as important, if not more so than the rest of the song. This album has great writing—some of the best from that decade.
Looking back, there were times when, whatever music that seemed good was accepted by almost everyone. The radio had its huge influence on us and the songs that were spewed out had to be almost perfect. Perfection in a song is one thing, but to have an entire album of perfection is an amazing experience. There is a deep longing for those older times once we age much higher than we ever imagined. Back then, these songs might have seemed like the catchy singles of the week, quickly forgotten and ushered away for the next big thing. But later on, when it’s a sporadic moment and the music of yesteryear starts to play, we can go back and remember with whatever fondness we can muster...