When Third Eye Blind released Out of the Vein in 2003, they felt like post-grunge relics that refused to acknowledge their time had passed. Six years later, with Ursa Major in tow, they've waited out the fallow time, surfacing just when late-'90s alt rock nostalgia is beginning to bubble. Tellingly, TEB shuck much of the heavy, oppressive sobriety of Out of the Vein, replacing it with a touch of the fizzy, singsong hooks that made their debut a smash success. Without guitarist Kevin Cadogan, these hooks aren't as finely honed, but they're still present, still digging in right underneath the surface, letting Stephan Jenkins get away with such nonsense as "Why can't you be like my Water Pik shower massager/A sweet reliable machine/To tell you the truth I don't feel less alone/A water massager is the purest love I've ever known." Jenkins digs deeper than the attributes of a massage, retaining no small element of the hard-edged social consciousness of Out of the Vein, signaling when it's time for things to get serious by toning down the hooks, turning down the volume, and letting the seriousness of the situation speak for itself. This makes the back half of Ursa Major kind of a self-important drag, almost erasing memories of the first side when Third Eye Blind were once again acting like the band they used to be, so the solution is simple: treat Ursa Major as an EP, forgetting the second half.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine