THIRD EYE BLIND – SCREAMER
Mega Collider, 2019
Do I really need to tell you who Third Eye Blind are? You know, the “Semi-Charmed Life” guys? The “Jumper” guys? Really? Alright fine. Third Eye Blind are an alternative rock band that formed in the ’90s and hit the world with a one-two-three punch of top 10 singles on their 1997 self-titled debut. Two of those singles were the ones I mentioned before. The third was “How’s It Going to Be.” They quickly followed up with the 1999 album Blue that, in some regards, was an improvement over their debut, but it was not as successful. And their popularity continued to decline from there despite remaining active and releasing new music semi-regularly.
Screamer is the band’s sixth album, and the first after frontman Stephan Jenkins announced that the band wouldn’t be releasing anymore full-length albums. So do what you want with that. Prior to release, Jenkins kept referring to the album under the working title Summer Gods and said it would be an EP with experimentation in other genres, including trap music. Mercifully, what we got is something more cohesive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. And they didn’t completely abandon the promise of trap music.
The album actually starts out pretty strong. It opens with the title track (featuring Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells), and while it fits in with modern alternative pop rock trends, it’s still on-brand for Third Eye Blind and noisy enough to keep your attention. Following that you have perhaps the best song on the album, “The Kids Are Coming (To Take You Down).” It’s a high energy guitar rock song with lyrics of protest and the hope of the future generations. It’s the closest thing on this album to the spirit of old school Third Eye Blind.
After this you get “Ways” and “Tropic Scorpio.” The former would be a mostly forgettable track if the lyrics didn’t creep into cringey territory. The latter is the only other point where they get close to the sound and feel of their peak, but it’s another case where the lyrics bring it down a few notches. Unfortunately things start to rapidly decline after this. The worst offenders are “Walk Like Kings,” “Got so High,” and “2X Tigers.”
As I mentioned before, they didn’t completely abandon the promise of trap music, and “2X Tigers” is the track that delivers on that promise. The result is a wandering, auto-tuned mess with a sparse beat and the whole thing feels out of place. Similarly, while “Walk Like Kings” is presented in an alternative pop rock sound, the lyrics wouldn’t be out of place in a modern trap song with lines about “motherfuckers fucking with my flow,” a G550, and “living the lux life.” “Got so High” has a pre-chorus that just repeats the word sugar over a dozen times as the tempo gets slower for the chorus, and the rest of the lyrics don’t make much sense either.
The rest of the songs aren’t really terrible, just mostly forgettable pop rock. The only one that really stands out with some level of lyrical depth is “Light It Up,” which seems to be about the fond memories of a friend who has passed.
Overall, it feels like Third Eye Blind and blink-182 are suffering from the same affliction. Both of these bands appealed to a specific demographic at their peaks and they’re desperately trying to appeal to the same demographic of this generation despite being 20 year veterans of the music industry. Screamer has a couple songs that will get the attention of older fans, but the rest feels like mediocre or just plain poor attempts at being relevant in today’s musical landscape.