Six years is a long time between albums, so it's not surprising Third Eye Blind changed between the release of 2009's Ursa Major and 2015's Dopamine. The biggest change was the contentious departure of guitarist Tony Fredianelli, a mainstay in TEB since he replaced founding member Kevin Cadogan in 2000, a move that reinforces how Third Eye Blind is very much the Stephan Jenkins show. Dopamine pushes Jenkins' emotional bloodletting to the forefront, drawing explicit connections to such early, earnest hits as "Jumper." Much of the album marches to these strident strums with the band choosing to prioritize drama over hooks, providing an appropriate-enough setting for Jenkins' cloistered, claustrophobic confessions. That isn't to say Dopamine is devoid of pop, though. When the record gets cooking, chorus melodies can soar and riffs can punch, creating an insistent, surging, miniaturized arena rock -- music where the emotions and sound exist on a grand scale but the intent feels intimate. Some of this modesty does indeed derive from how the hooks feel sculpted, not immediate -- the exceptions, "All the Souls" and "Rites of Passage," put the rest of the record in sharp relief -- and that fussiness suggests that Dopamine was a bit of a difficult birth, an impression underscored by the explicit call-backs to TEB's past on the title track. Even if Dopamine shows the scars of labor, that in itself is impressive, and it also emphasizes how, nearly 20 years into his career, Stephan Jenkins prefers to indulge in his idiosyncrasies and not polish them for reasons related to pop.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine