San Diego rockers coat heady declarations in yummy sonic candy shell
On its first album following the band’s momentous transition from cult pop-rock favorites to modern-rock radio darlings,
has changed precious little about its approach. Every crunching riff sounds like it’s being delivered in midair by someone who’s just enthusiastically leapt from a bass drum or speaker stack. Every anthemic chorus Jon Foreman writes feels tailored specifically so that he can quit singing at any time and let the audience take over like a sweaty, fist-pumping gospel choir.
The boundless positivity of the band’s previous work is also very much in evidence, especially on lead track “Lonely Nation,” on which Foreman sings, “I want more than my desperation, I want more than my lonely nation.” At times, the proliferation of such gauzy sentiments—e.g. “the shadow proves the sunshine” (“The Shadow Proves the Sunshine”), “you are golden, child, don’t let go” (“Golden”), “I want more than simple cash can buy” (“Happy is a Yuppie Word”)—feels uncomfortably pat. But the real tragedy is that lines such as these distract from the impressive lyrical depth of Foreman’s songwriting elsewhere. For example, on the album’s strongest track, “Easier Than Love,” he pins a smart, stinging diatribe on the commoditization of sex to a backdrop of grinning, cartwheeling guitar.