Finger Eleven

Them vs. You vs. Me

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There have always been vague underpinnings of funk in Finger Eleven's rhythms, but it still comes as a bit of a shock that "Paralyzer," the opening track of their fourth album, Them vs. You vs. Me, finds the Canadian quintet embracing the full-on disco-rock that started to emerge when they released their last album in 2003. Four years later, this sound isn't exactly passé -- plenty of bands are still pushing it -- but it's not exactly fresh either, except within the context of Finger Eleven, where it does add some welcome new dimension to their traditional '90s alt-rock sound. Sure, it's hard not to see it as a little bit of a desperate bid for relevancy, but even if the move comes across as calculated, the occasional dash of disco-rock gives Them vs. You vs. Me a little bit of needed new hue to a collection of otherwise colorless but capable by-the-book alt-rock, pitched partway between Stone Temple Pilots and Matchbox Twenty. Finger Eleven are pros, so they can deliver Oasis-styled anti-love songs like "I'll Keep Your Memory Vague" or Live-inspired anthemic ballads like "Change the World" with as much workmanship as their grungy rockers, but they need something to stand apart from the pack -- and the addition of awkward funk rhythms to the likes of "Lost My Way" nearly accomplishes that. So, the variety of rhythms, along with the increasing emphasis on acoustic-based power ballads, gives Them vs. You vs. Me the greatest musical variety of any Finger Eleven record, but they remain boxed in by their good intentions: they remain a group that's too polite too dislike but too well-mannered to remember.

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