I've been re-evaluating a few albums from my past recently, and this, an album I always thought was fun and stuff but also pretty simple and empty, is actually a truly brilliant album - a classic of its era.
Art Alexakis is clearly not as clever a lyricist as someone like Kurt Cobain (or even Rivers Cuomo) for instance, but I think this is his only drawback. While the album tails off a little towards the end, the first eight songs are so wonderfully constructed and the whole thing so impressively produced (I'm not sure anything comes close to it in terms of how it sounds for hi-fi alternative music), it's pop-rock perfection - I'm not sure there is a better example of it in terms of pop-song quality except perhaps for Nevermind or perhaps the first Weezer album - maybe not even them! I can overlook the lyrics - the content is fine, he clearly means what he's singing, it's more the realisation of it - from a language point of view it isn't great. But then the songs are so brilliantly put together it doesn't matter.
It's a shame that they decided to go down the slippery slope of major label puppetry, and released a pile of crap since 1999, and also a shame that they never made it back over to the UK since 2000, but then I would have just wanted a repeat of that show at the Astoria, which remains one of my favourite to this day.
But yeah, not the coolest band to like given what they became / have become, but, if you like this sort of thing, this album is undeniably great, right? There must be some other fans out there...? It seems to be they are highly underrated in this country, and there are probably loads of people out there who would really like them, but have never heard of them due to them not being in the press at all here in the last eight years.
Essential listening for fans of any of the following : Nirvana's pop songs, Weezer, 90s Dinosaur Jr, Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World, any pop-punk bands etc. etc.
NB. Just to pre-empt any potential replies stating as much : So Much For The Afterglow is also good, but definitely not as good, and certainly not better!