So Much For The Afterglow


Capitol, 1997

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


In an attempt to avoid the “grunge” tag that followed this band with 1995’s major-label debut Sparkle And Fade, Everclear expanded its sound ever so slightly on the 14-song follow-up, to mixed results. Already, the trio was showing its limited dynamic and songwriting range, which would become a liability pretty quickly. Without a thematic through-line to tie this together, the album rather quickly sinks into a loud, indistinguishable puddle.

A few hits came off of this one, including the solid “Everything To Everyone” and the monochromatic “I Will Buy You A New Life,” as well as the more personal “Father Of Mine,” a surprisingly touching song with some monster riffing. The music, meanwhile, follows a fairly standard ‘90s alternative post-grunge outlook but with a punk energy (check out “Amphetamine”) that bands like Good Charlotte and Blink-182 would co-opt a couple of years later; in particular, the rhythm drumming is fine but the drum fills are average at best, mostly consisting of whanging on the snare like a Space Invaders game, to quote Ozzy Osbourne.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But the arrangements of the songs are so predictable that they get old. Even with the energy of “Amphetamine,” you already know exactly how it’s going to sound, when the repetition of the chorus will occur, how the band will approach the transition from verse to chorus, and so forth. There are no surprises here save for the fun instrumental “El Distorto De Melodica” and the emotion of “Father Of Mine,” so if you don’t like any random one of these songs, you won’t like the rest. Everclear is a band that plays very much to its strengths and does not venture of its comfort zone; when they finally did in 2000 on “A.M. Radio” and “Wonderful,” they scored pretty big hits.

That said, the songs aren’t bad…just very similar to each other. The only real stinker is the opening title track, which is requisitely energetic but tacks on opening Beach Boys-style harmonies for no other reason than to loudly slam home some power chords to announce, I suppose, a changing of the California guard. Worse, Alexakis sings lines like “This is a song about the girl next door” but never goes into detail. The best songs don’t just say what they are; they reveal themselves through character studies, memorable lines, or lyrics that speak to the listener. “Father Of Mine” works because anyone who was ever a father or son immediately identifies with those emotions.

Toward the end, the band finally stretches a bit with a banjo riff on “Why I Don’t Believe In God” and a violin addition to "Like A California King,” and it should again be noted that “El Distorto De Melodica” is a very good instrumental and probably the most fun on the record. There is a creeping sense that Art Alexakis can only write songs about his ex-girlfriends, his messed-up parents, drugs, and his daughter, themes he would run into the ground a few years later, but here it’s still fertile territory for his lyrics.

So Much For The Afterglow is not a great album, but it’s a loud and fun one that has some rewards for those who care to look and sounds better in the car and during the summer than anywhere else. Plus, it rocks hard without irony, and that’s always welcome.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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