Although Hootie & the Blowfish delivered a fine second album, they had no hope of matching the phenomenal success of their debut, Cracked Rear View, so Fairweather Johnson was perceived as a flop, even though it moved over two million copies. In a way, that perception of failure was the best thing that could have happened to the band. With the spotlight being shone somewhere else (Alanis Morissette, to be exact), Hootie & the Blowfish could return to what they loved best -- playing music and being in a band. Musical Chairs, the group's third album, illustrates what a blessing it was for the group. Despite a couple of production flourishes, such as the occasional horn section and strings, it's no breakthrough or stylistic departure -- it's simply a well-made album, filled with catchy tunes. In other words, it's exactly like their first two records, but the performances are more kinetic and fun than on Fairweather Johnson, and the songs are arguably as consistent as those on Cracked Rear View. That's why Musical Chairs feels a bit like a comeback, but it really shouldn't be viewed that way -- it's just a consolidation of their talents and further proof that Hootie & the Blowfish are a fine mainstream pop/rock band.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine