Since it would be almost impossible to top their vastly underrated 1994 debut, EDC, Satchel tried a different approach on their 1996 follow-up, The Family. The overproduction that actually helped the debut (a rare case) is stripped away, replaced by simplicity and economy courtesy of producers Stone Gossard and Matt Wallace. There's also a greater emphasis on early-'70s Elton John-esque ballads, with an occasional rocker inserted -- the complete opposite of their debut's setup. The uptempo, irresistible pop of "Without Love" deserved to be Satchel's breakthrough hit, but instead was ignored. Still, there's an abundance of strong tracks, like the opening melancholia of "Isn't That Right," the creepy bass of the desperate "Tomorrow," and the spaced-out synthesizer work featured in "Criminal Justice" (which served as a trusty opening number on Satchel's resulting tour). The Family also marked the recording debut of new bassist Mike Berg, who replaced original member Cory Kane. This would also prove to be guitarist John Hoag's last recording with Satchel, who left the group after the tour's completion. Ultimately, The Family is just a shade less rewarding than EDC, but certainly not by much.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Prato