Art Alexakis has shaped Everclear into a reliable band – a band that delivers grunge-tinged modern rock infused with nostalgia and sentimentality on every album, not to mention suspiciously familiar-sounding chord progressions and lots of “ohs” and “yeahs.” But no matter how guilty they are of recycling songs, Everclear has a distinct sound that, it would seem, can’t be produced by anyone else. Alexakis’ production gets even slicker and his American culture critique even more pronounced on their latest, Slow Motion Daydream.
Don’t expect any big surprises after pressing play. The glossy production, string arrangements and quirky sound bytes of American Movie Pt. 1 make a return. Almost as an added bonus, songs like “Blackjack” and “I Want to Die a Beautiful Death” hark back to the Everclear of four albums ago, fusing gritty, subversive garage rock with Alexakis’ current, studio-savvy style.
Daydream is just as thematically cohesive as the American Movie discs, and it’s armed to the teeth with songs about getting away from it all. This is the mother of all recurring themes for Everclear (check out “Santa Monica,” “Summerland,” “I Will Buy You a New Life”), but it still works like a charm because Alexakis sells it so well. It’s hard not to believe it when he sings, “I just want to be / where the sun shines down / on a beautiful life” because his earnest tone exudes such a passionate yearning for just one decent roll of the dice. Alexakis sings like a stray dog begging for scraps, admitting that if he can’t have a good life, he’ll settle for going out with a bang (“I don’t want to live forever / I just want to die a beautiful death”). This stuff should probably sound ridiculous, but somehow, even after all these records, Art Alexakis still makes it sound sincere.
The album also succeeds with the catchy and tongue-in-cheek single, “Volvo Driving Soccer Mom,” which pokes fun at reformed teenage rebels, and “TV Show,” the unofficial sequel to “Wonderful,” in which Alexakis dreams, “I wish I could come home / to a life that looks / like a TV show.”
For the most part, Everclear sticks to what they think works and, incidentally, it works pretty well. The bright tones and high energy of Slow Motion Daydream show that the Everclear formula is still holding up nicely.
Rating: 4 Stars