The emotional and angst-filled voice of singer/songwriter Anday McCarron is the secret weapon that separates this debut album from other alternative rock albums of the late '90s. It is like a fifth instrument that goes from croon to yowl to roar in seconds flat. Performing songs like exorcisms, you cannot help but feel the pain and sorrow he expresses. Although largely ignored (the label failed to support the record), Surreal contains some stellar modern rock gems that combine heavy rock, glam, and post-punk dissonance. Driving guitar riffs are the mainstay of the album, although the band will occasionally hit the breaks and pull out the acoustic guitars. From start to finish, the album delivers catchy hooks without straying from the grunge/alt-rock lyrical formula. The themes and topics of the songs are predictable. Rejection, depression, and abuse are all covered here with the blessing of a Kurt Cobain or Eddie Vedder. "Surreal" provides the harrowing tale of a prelude to a suicide, while "It's So Perfect" rails out against the reality of domestic abuse. Sound familiar? McCarron delivers his doom and gloom message with lyrics like "What's the matter now? You're not so pretty today" and "it's so perfect that it probably isn't real." Songs like "Dumb" and "Dirty Word" are a rocking roller coaster ride of emotion and feeling. The band builds its momentum in "Because Today" by starting slowly and softly then suddenly pummeling the listener with a mountain of guitars. Love or hate McCarron's voice, it is a shame more people were not exposed to this album, as it definitely is one of the more original sounding albums of its genre.
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AllMusic Review by Eric Linden