Some albums you finish listening to feeling pumped-up. Others leave you chilled or in a thoughtful mood. By the time Third Eye Blind’s Screamer came to an end I found myself confused, disappointed and frankly wondering how far a band can fall.
Let’s backtrack a little bit. It’s 1997, the grunge scene has come crashing down in a hail of heroin and suicide and nu-metal is still in its infancy. In the midst of the appalling, over-produced nonsense of those ‘post-grunge’ years came Third Eye Blind’s self-titled debut album. With catchy rifts, introspective lyrics and inventive sound-design the album was met positivly from both mainstream MTV audiences and rock critics.
Sadly, with Screamer it is clear that Jenkin’s is in the midst of a major identity crisis. The guitars are gone, replaced by simplistic computer-generated beats. Smart, witty lyrics about addiction and self-destruction are replaced by painfully generic, swearing-filled sentiments about love, modern life and a dystopian future.
The group has a cult following who were happy with their consistent – if predictable – releases. This new direction will alienate them while the general lack of quality will bring in few new listeners.
Songs like ‘2X Tigers’ and ‘Got So Blind’ are truly awful. It is common knowledge that Jenkin’s is hard to work with and these days the roaster of rotating band members are basically there to fulfil his wishes. What this record showcases most clearly is how important that first incarnation of the band was in shaping the groups sound and direction.
Screamer is by far the worst Third Eye Blind album and clearly showcases that the group are at a crisis point. I fear the only way for the band to return to their 90’s hey-day is to reconvene that era’s members. But given how much Jenkin’s has since alienated those guys I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Last modified: 3rd December 2019