October 13, 2015 Third Eye Blind – Dopamine (Album Review)
American Rock band Third Eye Blind started their journey as musicians in 1993. The band has had many different members throughout the last 22 years, current members being Stephan Jenkins (lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist), Kryz Reid (back up vocalist/lead guitarist), long-timer Brad Hargreaves (drummer), Alex Kopp (piano/keyboardist) and Alex LeCavalier (bassist). Between 1993-1996, the band recorded three demos that gained major label attention and many showcases. In 1997, the band premiered their very first and self-titled album, Third Eye Blind. The album had 5 hit singles and one track, “Semi-Charmed Life”, was awarded for Billboard Music’s Modern Track of the Year. After the album released, their fan base grew very quickly and in 1999, two years later, the band released their second album titled Blue. Although the album did not receive as much response as the first one, it was still well rated and had four hit singles.
Due to the band taking a break from recording and touring nonstop, there was a four year gap between their second album and third album, Out of the Vein. Launched in 2003, Out of the Vein only had two hit singles on the album. Before and after their third album was created, the band was working on an EP called Symphony of Decay that was never properly released. Their fourth album, Ursa Major, was released six years later on August 18th, 2009. The album topped the Top Alternative Albums Chart and Billboard Rock Albums Chart. In 2012, vocalist Jenkins announced that Third Eye Blind’s fifth album, Dopamine, will also be their last one. It was released in 2015 and debuted number 13 on Billboard 200.
Being that six years is a long period between albums, Third Eye Blind’s sound is expected to change over time. Dopamine is very different from Ursa Major, but in a good way. The tracks get into singing-rap melodies, riffs that can punch, and choruses that climb and give a real rock aspect. Dopamine starts off with the track “Everything is Easy”. This song is classic Third Eye Blind with the dark and heartbreaking lyrics, “Go ahead and take my heart up. Roll it up like a joint,” and an undiluted pop chorus. The next track, “Shipboard Cook”, is not only slower and deeper in lyrics, but also stands out as being not only one of the best songs on the album, but one of the best songs Jenkins has ever written. The track is filled with maritime metaphors while singing about past ghosts and luggage. The song slowly builds as Jenkins screams with emotion before ending the song with whispers “I’m always a ghost.” Next track is “All The Souls”, which is radio-gold. Just like many tracks on this album, it shows that Stephan Jenkins still has the ability to write catchy-pop rock songs with great hooks. The tracks “Rites of Passage” and “Back to Zero” are possibly the weakest songs on the album. “Rites of Passage ” sounds a bit too much like past hit “Semi-Charmed Life” and neither song have the strongest lyrics.
While he second half of the album is a bit slow, it picks back up with the song “Something in You”. It starts off with sweet piano highlights and crescendos into the rock aspect, with an incredible, dynamic guitar solo in the background. “Get Me Out of Here” shows Jenkins’ lyrical ability to write songs about his insecurities and paint an honest picture of himself. The following track, “Blade”, may be the only song on the album that does not crescendo, but stays the same ballad throughout the entire strong. Stephan Jenkins keeps a low, pure vocal range through it all with the lyrics, “But I’ve got a heart that’s true. And there’s nothing that I won’t do, to get away with you.” Next, the pace gets moving quite a bit in “All These Things” and simmers down with “Exiles”, a ’90s style acoustic ballad that is one of the best on the album. Lastly, Dopamine ends with a tune called “Say It” that features several fantastic guitar solos from guitarist Kryz Reid.
Third Eye Blind has been through a lot over the years, so it is amazing to hear that the band can still produce good music after two decades. It saddens many that Dopamine is their last album, but at least they are going out with a good album that offers a lot to the fans who have followed them all of these years. CrypticRock gives this album 3.5 out of 5 stars.