Ten years after Candlebox slipped quietly into that good night after the release of Happy Pills, the grunge group returned in 2008 with Into the Sun. Not much has changed with the group in the meantime -- the most notable switch is that bassist Bardi Martin has been replaced by Adam Kury, but that changes the sound nary a whit, as Candlebox still crank out grunge that has more in common with AOR than Sub Pop. They even still show a partiality to the loping, echoey minor-key riffs that turned "Far Behind" into a hit, although they can't quite manage to string these sounds into a solid song. Most of the time, they're hammering out downstroked riffs pushed a little bit too cleanly through digital processors, sometimes recalling a neutered Led Zeppelin (the opening "Stand"), a lumbering Pearl Jam ("Underneath It All," "How Does It Feel"), or a ham-fisted funk-rock group from the late '80s ("Bitches Brewin'"), so they're better off when they're going for the ballads -- and better the plain-spoken, unapologetic AAA power ballad "Surrendering," which is surprisingly unselfconscious, than "Far Behind" variations like "A Kiss Before," which only bring up that Candlebox are mired in the '90s but they're given that too clean, pristine 2000s production that undercuts whatever noise-making gifts they had back in the day of the Buzz Bin.
Into the Sun Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine