The Wallflowers

Red Letter Days

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The Wallflowers' long-awaited third album, Breach, was a strong, confident record that demonstrated clear growth from Jakob Dylan as a songwriter and the Wallflowers as a band. Thing is, everybody ignored it. Critics wrote it off and the large audience Bringing Down the Horse attracted shunned it, leaving the band in an awkward position of having to prove themselves yet again with their fourth album, Red Letter Days. The first striking thing about the album is that its production is a clear reaction to the failure of Breach. Glistening where its predecessor had a semblance of grit, this is a polished mainstream rock record, designed to win back listeners who loved the band by hearing "One Headlight" on the radio repeatedly. Dylan has adjusted his songwriting slightly, too, playing up the hooks and the melodies, which is hardly selling out. Even so, it's hard not to wish that the album had a bit more of the quirks and muscle that gave Breach its backbone. Without it, Red Letter Days isn't quite as forceful, but it is accomplished, melodic, and attractive, especially since the simple fact is, there are very few bands making this kind of post-Tom Petty classicist rock in the 2000s, and those that do don't do it as well, which is why this album is welcome, no matter how glossy the production is.

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