Third Eye Blind

Out of the Vein

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Third Eye Blind don't get much respect from rock critics or fans, but they do have their own weird kind of integrity. Under the direction of Stephan Jenkins -- who, after the departure of guitarist Kevin Cadogan, is not just the leader, but the major musical force -- they are an unabashedly mainstream post-alternative band, but they have the fervor and righteous belief of U2, only delivered on a smaller scale and with a distinctively American bent. They believe in big-scale music, so they can't help but deliver music that sounds commercial (which in other hands would sound like a sellout), but since they believe it, man, and because Jenkins sings passionately, it doesn't sound that way in their hands. That's especially true of their third album, Out of the Vein, where the bandmembers sound like they have something to prove -- which, in a way, they do. While Jenkins was undeniably the band's jet-setting frontman -- a heartthrob once linked to actress Charlize Theron -- Cadogan was generally acknowledged as the band's secret weapon, crafting the songs and playing the hooks that kept TEB in the charts where other post-grungers fell behind. Without Cadogan, they have to prove that they can still deliver, and the band responds by rocking harder than ever -- a move that coincidentally happens to emphasize the aforementioned inadvertently mainstream integrity, since the harder sound gives this a harder sheen (not a harder edge), even to the handful of mid-tempo songs and ballads. Sonically, it's not a bad move, but the record is hurt by the absence of hooks, which unfortunately did disappear with Cadogan. Though earnest and bearing the hallmarks of being carefully crafted, none of the songs have hooks, which leaves the band and their good intentions stranded. They strive for great heights -- something that is tougher than Blue, something that is anthemic and sweeping -- but they're weighed down by their lack of memorable songs. If they can keep this sound and get back the hooks, they'd have something as good as their first two records, but, as it stands, this is their first stumble.

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