Collective Soul


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All the stars align for Collective Soul on Blood, at least as far as the calendar is concerned. It's their tenth album released in the wake of the 25th anniversary of their 1994 breakthrough, the kind of landmark that only a veteran band gets to claim. At this point in their career, Collective Soul are acting like veterans, playing music that builds upon their older work, music that ignores the present day by going deeper into the familiar. Even if Blood offers the kind of densely saturated melodies and hooks that are Collective Soul's trademarks, it doesn't feel like a throwback, nor does it seem like a nostalgia trip. Leader Ed Roland decorates his surging rockers and ballads with some light, stylish flair in the margins -- they usually arrive in the form of polished electronic accents -- and, more importantly, he still sings with passion. His energy and resolve enliven songs that deliberately follow conventional contours -- songs designed to evoke certain sounds and emotions, from both Collective Soul's peak in the alt-rock '90s and the '70s album rock that is their perennial inspiration. If the sounds on Blood aren't precisely new, they're nevertheless sturdy, the work of craftsman who know their trade and are comfortable relying on their skills. It's the kind of album delivered by a confident veteran act, then: solid and strong, lacking in frills but satisfying all the same.

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