Collective Soul

Fuzze-Flex Records, 2022

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Eleven albums in 30 years may not seem like much, but Collective Soul has shown a gift over the years for writing consistent, straight-ahead, hooky pop-rock that all feels of a piece. Not a band to give in to trends, but one that is able to slowly adapt and grow over time, the quintet has a body of work that ties together nicely regardless of era.

Such consistency means something of a lack of growth, but if you’re a fan who just likes the light alt-rock sounds of the 90s, then this album is right up your alley. Vibrating could be a companion piece to any of the band’s ’90s albums—the time period of their biggest hits like “Shine,” “The World I Know,” “December,” “Gel,” “Heavy” and “Why Pt. 2”—and remains a throwback to that time with its lean 10-song 40-minute runtime, lack of guests, punchy rock hooks and arena-rock feel.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Where Vibrating succeeds is in how it fails to be a legacy veteran album, the kind that meanders with midtempo jams and maybe one great single and that allows a once-popular band to get back on the road to earn a living. You see that a lot with ’90s acts over the last 15 years. Make no mistake, this is definitely an album that fits into that timeframe, but Ed Roland and company still have an energy in their songwriting and a way with a hooky riff that sounds like friends (in their 50s now, mind you) jamming in their garage on the weekends or at the local amphitheater in front of a small but appreciative crowd.

Opener “Cut the Cord” is a fast-paced rocker that will take you back to 1995’s Collective Soul album, and both “Reason” and “Undone” are in a similar vein, confident and fun, delivered by a band that knows what it’s good at and doesn’t try to go beyond that. “Rule No. 1” is an effective acoustic-led song and “Back Again” is the sole ballad, finding a spacy groove and ending with a languid, almost Floydian guitar solo; it’s the only time here the band seems to break out of its comfort zone a bit. Closer “Where Do I Go” also strives for an anthemic feel, ending with strings and handclaps, designed to be a crowd-pleaser at concerts.

The album was intended to be a companion piece to 2019’s Blood, but the songs were shelved during the 2020-21 pandemic. The band revisited them in 2022 and liked what they heard, making only minor changes during the recording, and as such this isn’t a “pandemic album” in the sense of what that term came to be. It also isn’t really a companion to Blood, since neither has a unifying theme or overarching musical conceit. Rather, it’s a companion to any previous Collective Soul album, which makes it a fun listen for fans.

Other than “Cut the Cord” and first single “All Our Pieces,” there’s little that is a “must-hear,” although that’s rarely the case when a band delivers an album 30 years into their career anyway. Rather, it’s a solid, uncomplicated offering from a band that consistently delivers such things.

Rating: B

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