Third Eye Blind’s “Dopamine” sentimental, but unsurprising

Courtesy Amazon

"Dopamine" is a solid album for Third Eye Blind, but it doesn't break away from the band's previous work.

Before listening to the latest Third Eye Blind album, there are a few crucial notes to acknowledge:

1. Don’t expect it to sound like “Jumper,” “Semi-Charmed Life” or “How’s It Going to Be”—it’s been nearly 20 years since those hits were released and, needless to say, a lot has changed since the 90’s.

2. One of those changes was the band’s makeup. New members mean a slightly new sound.

3. Remember that this is going to be Third Eye Blind’s last album ever… well, sort of. (Most members of the band have been quoted as saying that “Dopamine” is the last traditionally-recorded LP the band will make, but they didn’t say anything about nontraditionally-recorded other music.)

That said, the album is solid. Is it the best thing Third Eye Blind has ever made? Despite what the band members assert: no, not the best.

Really, it’s about as good as any other album by the alt band. “Dopamine” is filled with some good, driving rock, still recognizable as a Third Eye Blind album, but now with some modern garnishes. The immediate recognition may or may not be the best thing.

There are two standout songs on this album. “Rites of Passage” brings out Stephan Jenkin’s fast-paced rhymes and some great whistling. This is Third Eye Blind; it could have arrived in the band’s first self-titled album in 1997, sandwiched between “Graduate” and “How’s It Going to Be.” You would never know the difference, as long as you took out the few seconds of electronic finesse.

Then there’s “Everything is Easy”—a teeny bopper song for adults. It includes bouncy guitar licks straight from a happier-sounding The Cure and lyrics like: “Go ahead, take my heart up, roll it up like a joint. Smoke me up ‘til the feeling gets cashed.”

While the rest of the album is still good, much of it passes by like background music in a department store. Very little is unexpected; very little breaks out of the mold.

Really, the most surprising thing on “Dopamine” was Jenkin’s high-pitched singing/screeching of the lyrics “She’s a creature of the night!” in the middle of the anthemic “Get Me Out of Here.” And then there’s the sudden slam of guitar fuzz in “Something in You,” the heaviest song on the track list.

Third Eye Blind is a band that created enough decades-old hits to feel sentimental, and so the fact that “Dopamine” doesn’t break away from their vibe too much might be a good thing.

But on the other hand, it’s impossible to listen to it without comparing it to their past work.

Perhaps the band was being a little self-conscious in the song “Shipboard Cook,” which is the second track on “Dopamine.” Towards the end of the song, Jenkins repeats, over and over, “I’m always a ghost” until the song fades away into a faraway echo. In the same way, “Dopamine” is good, but mainly because it’s the afterlife of several other great albums.

 

Album: “Dopamine”

Band: Third Eye Blind

Release Date: June 16, 2015

Rating: 3/5