Collective Soul: Collective Soul (2009)
Collective Soul is the band’s second self-titled record, and their eighth studio release.
Did you know that? Collective Soul has put out eight studio albums? I didn’t know that.
Yeah…”Whoa-oh-ooh-whoa, [wah-oo-wah-oo-wah], brother let your light shine…” Yeah. Those guys.
The only Collective Soul record I’ve ever owned is, fittingly, their other self-titled release from 1995; I was a freshman in high school at that time. In many ways, Collective Soul (designated by the band as Rabbit, and hereafter referred to as such) reminds me of my fifteen year-old self: largely inoffensive due to being generally polite, but rather bland and indistinct due to having absolutely no balls. Thankfully, I managed to (over time) develop some confidence, mature, learn from life experiences, and am an entirely different person now, fourteen years later. Collective Soul, on the other hand, seems content to not only give this record the same name, but basically recreate the music of its fourteen year-old predecessor. As I said, it’s largely inoffensive, but absolutely equivalent to the sad, lonely man that would be writing this now had I not socially, emotionally and mentally progressed since the age of fifteen.
Being that my familiarity with Collective Soul has lapsed so completely, I did something different when listening to Rabbit: I took some notes.
Also, I only listened to it once, and probably will not again.
I didn’t write anything down for the opening track, “Welcome All Again,” because it’s actually pretty good. It’s catchy and upbeat with a decent lead riff. The rest of my notes, however, consist basically of multiple uses of the words “blah” and “90s,” punctuated by a few serious complaints. That’s the gist of Rabbit: a lot of unremarkable sound punctuated by some truly bad music. The second track, “Fuzzy,” for instance, is a train-wreck; between the completely obnoxious whistling, the not-at-all appealing melody, and the fact that it’s at least a full minute too long (at least), the phrase that I used to sum it up is “whole song sucks.” “Dig” finds Collective Soul attempting—unsuccessfully—to channel heavier modern bands like Anberlin or The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. “Understanding” is a prime example of why lead singer Ed Roland should really quit with the falsetto. There’s a decent guitar solo, but the extremity of the song’s tempo changes destroys any flow it may have had; jarring dynamics can work for certain bands—not this one.
“Understanding” and “You” are the first songs that Collective Soul has ever written together as a band. Ed Roland attributes this to “the confidence that the other guys have gotten in their music skills and the songwriting and also, for lack of a better term, me letting go of my ego a little bit...” Wow; two whole songs, huh? You, sir, are a shining example of selflessness.
Honestly, you don’t even need to hear an example track from Rabbit. Aside from a decent opener and a pretty little closer (“Hymn For My Father”), it offers nothing noteworthy. It’s milquetoast, with a couple of rotten eggs on the side. It’s slightly worse than bland, because the intermittent fart smell will distract you from your dozing. Imagine, if you will, that nondescript teenager, probably dressed in his very best concert t-shirt (Aerosmith, no less), meekly asking out a cute, self-possessed teenage girl who has a real identity and self-esteem and everything. You can’t even root for him as the underdog, because there’s absolutely nothing distinguishable on which to latch. Only as she’s letting him down briefly and politely (because he is completely uninteresting), he randomly shouts “what the FUCK?” a couple of times. Not pretty, is it? Almost as unpleasant as these continued and irrelevant 1990s high school analogies, right? (A side note: I never did the yelling thing.)
You, dear reader, are the cute girl. Just say no.