In the prime of ’90s music, alternative rock was at an all-time high as far as radio play was concerned. Every other band that existed during that time frame was at about the same level of popularity as the next – seeing as most of their fan base was the average young adult, susceptible to whatever came through the headphones of their cassette players. However once the tables started to shift, as they often do, many of those bands became obsolete and ended up relying on their existing fan bases in order to continue thriving. Some bands became some of the largest influences in their respective genres (Nirvana, Radiohead, Green Day) while some were just happy with consistently making music for their fans (Third Eye Blind, Stone Temple Pilots), but many others fell by the wayside and continue to wallow in obscurity to this very date.
Unfortunately, the latter happened to Southern Californian alternative trio Eve 6, who, after spending nine years making three albums, decided to call it quits in 2004. However, they reunited with the original line-up after making amends with longtime guitarist Jon Siebels last year and are back with their debut release on Fearless Records, Speak in Code. With this album, the band has hit a mostly successful middle ground between nostalgia-driven tunes and songs searching for a newfound fan base.
You’re probably wondering: in the last eight years, what about Eve 6 has changed? Have they switched things up musically, or have they held true to the stylistic qualities that earned them fans in the first place? Well, it’s a mixture of both, with positive and negative results. Album opener “Curtain” starts things off positively, firing off an appropriately quick tempo for an energetic beginning. The first half of the track has the fiery zing of Funeral Party, but it gets broken up with a rock-rap that flows surprisingly well given the song’s style.
Songs like “Downtown” and “Trust Me” keep the drive consistent throughout the album in different ways. “Downtown” opens with a bass line that’d be appropriate for any dance floor but works its way into block party territory by the time it hits the chorus. “Trust Me” opens urgently with an emphasis on the bass drum and vocalist Max Collins’ heavy-hitting lyricism, slowly gaining momentum to one of the most powerful choruses the band has written since the days of Horrorscope.
The style changes in Speak in Code are usually welcomed with open arms, but it’s the moments when the band sticks to the elements used on previous works that bring the heaviest amounts of nostalgia. “Everything” and “B.F.G.F.” make the most of this ideal, sticking to the standard pop-rock territory found on their self-titled and Horrorscope and it works to their advantage with positive results. “Moon,” the album’s best track, stands out effectively among so many of the album’s heartier numbers. Collins’ lyrics make a larger impact on this track than on any of the others (“So much to lose or so it seems/These idle games in children’s dreams/How they confound and split the seams inside my mind/I just keep moving on into the unknown”).
However, the guys do show their age in a couple of songs. After such a long hiatus, it’s apparent that they are attempting to adapt to the current music model. Leadoff single “Victoria” suffers from this, unfortunately, with a mixture of mediocre lyrics and a bad dance synth. Consequently, it feels like that pop song your uncle would listen to if he wanted to feel relevant in music. With lyrics like “She’s doing body shots off Italian guys in Mexico” and “She’s grooving to a Coldplay dance mix turned up,” it comes across as pandering knowing that the guys are nearing their mid-thirties. “Situation Infatuation” hits a similar struggle. It stretches rhymes to intense lengths (the first verse attempts “ironic” and “much on it”) and uses its “woo-hoo-hoo” hook a few more times than necessary. In the end, it feels like something cut from Sugar Ray’s Music for Cougars, which if you aren’t familiar, was an album that could’ve completely been cut.
These hiccups aside, Eve 6’s experiment at finding a happy medium of staying pertinent for today’s generation while simultaneously pleasing their initial fan base has proved successful. What could have easily been a misstep in judgment proves to be a revival of what made the band much better than the average radio rock group. Speak in Code should have enough propulsion to launch Eve 6 back to where they left off so long ago. Here’s to hoping their next effort won’t take another decade this time around.
Check Out: “Moon,” “Trust Me,” “Curtain”
For Those Who Rock:
Sugar Ray‘s In The Pursuit of Leisure
Third Eye Blind‘s Out of the Vein
Fountains of Wayne‘s Welcome Interstate Managers