Blind third eye
Our gang apart
With Covid-19 derailing Third Eye Blind tour plans, they have hit the studio. The results make these deferrals worth it. Comments on Sam Lambeth.
Two of the best songs from Third Eye Blind’s new album are covers. Only one song is aware of this fact.
Dust Storm (How We Hang Out Right Now) is such a carbon copy of The Cure’s Just Like Heaven that you half expect Robert Smith to send his subpoena as we speak. It’s packed with all of the same features – the crashing drums, singing acoustics, and echo-drenched guitar whine – to the point where it threatens to derail the whole album.
Much more successful is the real blanket. Funeral Singers, originally by Californe, gets a 3EB makeover with a wonderful effect – its gothic cogitations (“all my friends are weeds and rain, all my friends are half-gone birds”) could have come straight from the Stephan Jenkins’ playbook, while his punchy guitars and anthemic backing vocals are made for arenas.
And speaking of arenas, Our Bande Apart is not a record made for them. It is the Third Eye Blind in its most mature, measured, and thoughtful form. While 2019’s Screamer is covered in layers of stormy warp and brilliant shine, Our Bande Apart feels like a group impacted by the world around them. Only the surf rock ripper still has the rooftop revelry of yesteryear.
Opener Goodbye To The Days Of Ladies And Gentlemen is a sober rumination about modern society (“we’ll never sing about tits and ass again,” Jenkins laments wryly at one point). Built around Jenkins’ laid back vocals and melodious acoustics, it sets the tone for a majestic and understated album.
Box Of Bones is even more successful. Rather than jumping into a crescendo arm in the air, the song ends just as it reaches its climax. Before that, it’s a sweet, emotional, and excellent engraving of grief and confusion. It shows that, almost thirty years later, Jenkins can still conjure up magic and mastery in three-minute clips.
There are other gems to discover. To The Sea threatens the same style of trap that their previous song 2X Tigers succumbed to. Instead, it’s a beautiful, fragmented ballad reminiscent of Bon Iver at his tenderest.
Silverlake Neophyte is reminiscent of 3EB’s classic Motorcycle Drive-By, with Jenkins taking on the role of a loyal sage offering advice to his younger ones. “Deep down, I think you are bubbling with ambition, like everyone else, you are on a mission,” he advises before discussing the dangers of being a clone of Elliott Smith.
Our Bande Apart is Third Eye Blind in its stripped down form, a cohesive and solid collection of songs that shows Jenkins still has a unique and unmatched touch as a songwriter. “I’m on the outside, never satisfied,” sings Jenkins. It’s an attitude that serves him well.
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Sam Lambeth is a Birmingham-based journalist and musician. His music can be found on Spotify and more of his work is available on his archives. He also runs his own blog.