Eighteen years ago, Third Eye Blind were hitting the top ten on international charts with songs like Semi-Charmed Life and How’s It Going To Be, with their mixture of power pop music and often melancholic lyrics creating a mixture that was catchy yet meaningful. Almost twenty years later, six years after their last album Ursa Major, their fifth and latest album Dopamine is finally seeing the light of day. While five albums in twenty years seems like a relatively small amount, Third Eye Blind always pack in enough quality to more than make up for it.
Dopamine takes a familiar route with its sound. Largely a mixture of power pop and alternative rock elements songs vary from the upbeat energy of songs like Everything Is Easy and the title track to the lighter style of All These Things and Exiles, which focus heavily on vocals rather than bringing the band up to match them. With the first half being packed with catchy hooks and energy and the second half stripping it back just enough to still work. Stephan Jenkins’ writing, production and vocals are all high quality, and make for a cohesive package.
It’s the album’s split between the two styles that really sells it. By starting the album with all the high energy songs and gradually slowing it down, it gives the album a real sense of progression that suits the song writing style. The lead single Everything Is Easy opens the album on a strong note, with a consistent song that’s got just the right amount of energy to open the album properly and a strong riff to carry it. By the time the album reaches track nine, Blade, and strips it back to a guitar with Jenkins’ vocals, highlighting the morbid murder-fuelled lyrics, the album really starts showing its strength.
The album does have a few weak spots, with Shipboard Cook not really matching the strength of the hooks in its surrounding songs, and the heavy use of Jenkins’ falsetto in All The Souls falling flat rather than acting as an advantage. Thankfully, the strength of the title track makes up for this, with its guitar riff in particular standing out, and with nothing that follows falling as low as the previous two songs. The strength of the writing in the second half is also stronger, with Blade and the handling of its dark subject matter being especially noteworthy.
When there’s a six year gap between albums, expectations are usually high. And while Dopamine isn’t a perfect album, it’s definitely a strong one. For being a fairly standard style alternative rock album sound-wise, the sheer quality of the writing and the strength of the riffs make the album a lot more interesting. While we’re not sure whether or not there’ll be another six year wait before the next album, Dopamine should make the wait easier either way.