I'm not going to attempt to Vet myself as a 311 fan like many people think needs to be proved (especially the 18yr olds out there who claim to have been on the 311-train since '94), so i'll move past that.
I'm 24. This is an honest review (and most importantly, a *non-hateful, non-slanted review*) from a longtime, unashamed 311 follower who remembers listening and calling-in to radio stations for hours to hear "All Mixed Up" and "Down" in 4th grade because my parents wouldn't let my buy the 'Blue Album' due to the Parental Advisory sticker.
These are my 3 cents. This is straight-musical-talk. Take em or leave em.
A certain sect of "old skool" (I hate this term, by the way) 311 fans have been saying for about 8 years now that "311 is in a rut," and I agree. 311 is in a rut, and I don't know if they're capable of getting out. I hope they can. I am hopeful.
I don't straight up dislike this album, but i'm not very thrilled with it beyond the first 5 songs. It starts to taper off. Parts of the album all-over get my head nodding, but it's shortlived. There are no "Welcomes" or "Full Rides" or "Guns" or "Applied Sciences" or "Rub-a-Dubs" that just instantly grab me within the first 20secs. I kinda have to be like "oh, ok, this is starting to get alittle interesting here, ok."
The start of the album I do enjoy, through "Indica Ink," and even "Daisy Cutter."
I start to clash with it at "Too Much Too Fast." I don't get that song at all.
I like the musical structure of songs like "Never Ending Summer"/"Jackpot"/"Something Out of Nothing," BUT i find myself being disappointed with the lyrics (especially those second two). I'm really having a hard time meshing with the jam/heavy sound and the "Ohh Ohhhs," "Everybody Jump!"s, and dumbed-down lyrics.......
Like Seriously: "Maaagic, Something out of Nothingg! The par-a-normal be-came nor-mal." Really? "Paranormal became normal?" You couldn't have gotten alittle more crafty or articulate with that? I know you could've made that flow better.
Or how about the "Crack-a-up a Coconut and Twist-a-up a Lime." That line just puts a big DENT in the song for me, unfortunately. ANY song that wants to be viewed of and taken seriously as "hard" needs NOTHING to do with coconuts and limes. And the "Everybody Say! Oooh OOOh." Total filler. Put some thoughtful lyrics in there and interest me MUCH MORE.
And the "Suuumeerrr, never ending suuummerrr, it's our tiiime, all the time, Nanana Nanana." It sounds like it's some kind of a schoolyard-playground-chant.
I apologize fans, I'm just having a big clash between the music and message on a good 1/3 of this album. It's like i need to mute-out some of the lyrics to be able to take the music more seriously.
The most meaningful/serious lyric I've gotten was "One song can end a war." And that's just 2 lines, compared to the repetitive "Oohhs" and "nananas."
...I haven't been overly thrilled about a 311 album since 'From Chaos.' I feel like 'From Chaos' was the last time they really "brought it" (leaving "Amber" aside).
None of their music since then has really made me want to jump like "You Get Worked"/"Full Ride"/"Sick Tight"/"Wake Your Mind Up." And I really want to feel that way about their music again.
BUT 'From Chaos' was a double-edged sword(!)
Alot of fans had been saying it for a long time back when 'Evolver' came out, that "'Amber' was the song that should've never been." And I didn't really see it back then, but it's true.
..."Champagne" was much better, more thought, more class, more mature....but "Amber" was the ONE SONG that took 311 down the whole "Love Song"/love-fest/tropical-fest path that 311 seems to want to appeal to now, over the past 3 albums at least.
To me, that one song marks the beginning of that "311 rut" many speak of.
I've watched it happen before my eyes.
I started to seriously follow 311 in '97 when 'Transistor' rolled out. They carried a big skater/surfer/biker/stoner scene (at least here around NC and VA), and I was totally a part of it.
I saw them for the 1st time in 2001 right after 'From Chaos' dropped, and the "scene" was very prevalent. It was about "ROCK." It was about "JAM." It was "FUNK." It was pretty awesome.
....I've seen 311 5 times since that show, and that "late 90's scene" that was such a force back then is becomming less and less.
It's kinda sad to watch and experience. Where there used to be alot of sceners and stoners jammin' in the crowd, They've been weeded-out by boyfriends and girlfriends holding hands on date night. It's changed.
*311 used to be on the same stages as Rage Against the Machine and Deftones and Pearl Jam. They used to be in a copycat-of-style war with SUBLIME. Bands i refer to as 90's Powers.*
Now they gang up with your Jack Johnsons, Dispatches, OARs and Kings of Leons (not that that's bad, just not the same, except OAR does suck). And I could care less for SnoopDogg.
Can you not see the shift in power and influence as far as ROCK goes? RATM alone makes my point. 311 was once in that boat.
"Getting old and maturing" has nothing to do with it. TOOL has been getting old and maturing for as long as 311 has, and their edge is just as sharp (arguably sharper) than it was in '95.
311 needs to regain that sharpness and edge somehow.
Sure. I'm sure over time this album will grow, as music typically does.
But I already have that feeling that I will continue to be more devoted to their previous music, and I hate feeling disappointed like that.
I'm not hating, fans. Do see that. I just want 311 to reimpress me again. Take another ballsy chance like 'Transistor' or 'Kid A' or 'Lateralus' and grab somebody's attention again. Regrab that legendary status that I used to see.