Album Review: Everclear, ‘Black Is The New Black’
There are plenty of standout rock bands from the '90s who are still making music and touring. In fact, most of them have been on Everclear's annual Summerland tour. One thing, however, makes a band like Everclear reign supreme: the fact that they have always and continue to straight-up shred the American rock scene. If you don't remember them from back then, you'll certainly never forget them now.
Their new hard rock album, Black Is The New Black, is a modern and heavier true follow-up to 1995's Sparkle & Fade (although they released six albums after it). As fierce of a comeback album as one can get (it's their first since 2012's Invisible Stars), it's a strong-armed declaration from the band, making it apparent that they're back, bigger and louder than ever.
The opening track, "Sugar Noise," is an interestingly experimental, yet brave opener. Its busy riff and mid-track voiceover is slightly different from what we would normally expect from the band, but it's a testament to how Everclear are ready to change with the times while staying true to their rock and roll roots. The second track,"The Man Who Broke His Own Heart," is arguably one of Everclear's best tracks ever. Frontman Art Alexakis' vocals speak through pure emotion and passion, and the hook is as catchy as ever. It's a song that puts them back on the map for sure.
"American Monster" might be the album's heaviest track. It has a heavy alternative edge, tons of energy and arena potential, making it the perfect lead single for such a powerful album. Alexakis' vocals are as passionate as they were when the band first formed in 1991. The fourth track, "Complacent," is the track that most resembles Sparkle & Fade and their earlier work. It's got some "Father of Mine" vibes, as well as some "Santa Monica" edge. Dare we say, it's a combination of the two? Woah. Mind equals blown. The breakdown at the end makes you just want to go back to high school and hang out of your best friend's car window while you blast it on the stereo.
"You" has a dark edge, heavy drums and heavy everything. The band incorporate some sound effects, again modernizing the sound they've procured during the past two decades."This Is Your Death Song" has a somewhat punk edge with crazy, crescendo riffs coming in and out of every direction. The chorus is as catchy as ever, further solidifying the fact that there is not one bad song on this record. The seventh track, "Simple and Plain," sees Alexakis rapping part of the verses before a pop-filled chorus explodes with backup vocals and all. The next track, "Anything Is Better Than This," takes a different turn. Aside from a few electronics, the track focuses on the solo guitar riff and a standout bass line.
The ninth track of the album, "Van Gogh Sun," is where things finally slow down. Although, did you really want them to? Well, good news is that it doesn't last for long, only the intro. The sporadic riffs and uptempo beat will get you right back on your feet. It's a sing-along song for sure – something that can and will have the crowd singing at their shows.
The final two tracks, "Pretty Bomb" and "Safe," are very different from each other, but each serves as a great way to close out the album as a pair. "Pretty Bomb" hits hard and "Safe" leads out in a softer, reflective kind of way. It leaves you generally pleased that there is still potential for new rock 'n' roll to sound as good as the old stuff. They're proof that a straight up rock and roll album can still be diverse. If you're a 90s kid or just a fan of pure rock and roll, this is the album for you. It won't disappoint.