It happens all the time. A band puts out a well-received debut, tours successfully, and generally feels excited about its future. And while it may seem that the "sophomore slump" is an overused cliché, before issuing their premier releases most bands spend years working on songs live, refining their songwriting, and finding their place in things. They get the record deal, and take those well-worked songs into the studio with them. They record, release, and if they're lucky, the album is a moderate to big hit. If it is, then they get a follow-up to make. Only this time, the band has to come up with new tracks, usually in a sterile, studio environment, and given that they're probably sick of playing the same tunes for the last few years, cracks in morale start to appear. To say this happened to All About Eve would be hitting the nail on the head. Recorded in somewhat idyllic surroundings should have had a positive effect on the band, but instead the Eves had a bit of a meltdown. Scarlet and Other Stories, their "difficult" follow-up, is the result of a band trying to cope with moderate success while working new sounds and styles into their music. More diverse and a tad longer than All About Eve, Scarlet has some fantastic moments and some not so fantastic moments. Tracks like "Road to Your Soul" and "December" are quintessential All About Eve, while others, such as "Hard Spaniard" and "Blind Lemon Sam," are catchy and melodic but stretch the ability of the band a bit too far. Lyrically, Scarlet is considerably darker than its predecessor, lacking the angels and hippies and flower children of the debut. What it all boils down to is that when the band is playing to its strengths, the album is great. When they're trying too hard, the album feels a bit like a misstep.
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AllMusic Review by Chris True