Everclear are a band that never seem to have made it big in the UK despite having four platinum albums in the US. Their 1997 album So Much For The Afterglow was anthemic for me when I was a student and – digging it out again with the news of this latest release – I found that I still knew the words to every track, 18 years on.
Black is the New Black continues the well-trodden path of guitar-fronted, bouncing, catchy rock songs that have been Everclear’s trademark since back in the day. This was an album that I popped on and was instantly transported back to much younger years. Sadly only in my head. My aching old frame didn’t follow, but did at least tap its foot.
Opener “Sugar Noise” has a quick build that rapidly kicks into organised chaos from which Art Alexakis’ instantly recognisable vocals pour forth. Honestly, I can’t believe that almost twenty years have passed between one of my favourite albums of the 90’s and this new release. Instant familiarity. “The Man Who Broke His Own Heart” is one of Everclear’s slower numbers but certainly isn’t a ballad, though it has as much soul as any ballad-writer could wish for.
“American Monster” is a little strange to start with. Unusual guitar notes screech from the speakers, but by the time the first chorus is reached we have another fist-punching classic with great shout-a-long lyrics. “Complacent” is another that takes me back two decades with its slow, sleezy pace. Ambling along and tugging at you until you give in and start nodding your head to the beat. The heavy break 2/3 of the way through almost catches you by surprise.
I always promise myself I won’t go through a review just rattling words off about every song, but there is so much on here that’s worth shouting about. I do have a few other Everclear albums and I’ve enjoyed them, but never as much as So Much…. Until now.
“This Is Your Death Song” just demands to be played loud and long with the chaotic second half, “Simple and Plain” should pull in those who like waving their arms side-to-side and swearing a lot, “Van Gogh Sun” is music for driving a convertible to – perfect for the weather we’re having here right now, “Pretty Bomb” continues the pace and we end with the wonderfully chilled “Safe”.
I gather that a UK tour depends on sales of the album, so this is a personal appeal… because I’ve never managed to catch the guys live when they’ve been in the UK in the past. Check out any promos you can and if you like this album then throw money at Amazon, iTunes or wherever you get your music from. Treat it as a personal favour. Go on. You won’t regret the purchase either.
- Sugar Noise
- The Man Who Broke His Own Heart
- American Monster
- This Is Your Death Song
- Simple And Plain
- Anything Is Better Than This
- Van Gogh Sun
- Pretty Bomb
Black is the New Black is out on April 27th (UK) / 28th (US)