Everything that is born must die. A simple fact of life, really. Unfortunately, when applied to the music industry, the phrase often morphs into “everything that is born must continue beyond its usefulness until death is not elegant, but painful.” My brief interest in 311 occurred in the dark ages of the early 1990’s, but I don’t think that has anything to do with how mercilessly bland their new record, Uplifter, sounds to me.
I figured they could still put out a decent record. After all, they have a kind of unmistakable sound, mostly due to Nick Hexum’s vocals and the reggae-punk-rock churn that is their music. But there’s just something about the watered-down sounds on this album that left me scratching my head and wondering if maybe the band should have let their 1990’s heyday stand on its own.
“It’s Alright,” the impossibly cheesy second track, is what made me feel the first twinge of disapproval. “India Ink” didn’t help things either, as the track is a downright laughable half-rapped, half-rocked imitation of the sound that made the band famous. “Too Much Too Fast” is a complete misstep, some sort of pop that wrongly aspires to mix in lounge elements, and “Two Drops in the Ocean” is hackneyed, sappy, derivative balladry.
A general sense of agitation takes over by the time track 10, “Something Out Of Nothing” comes around. Anyone who can sit through the rest of the album is either an incredibly devoted 311 fan or – and I think I qualify for this – slightly masochistic when it comes to music. The bad records make the good ones seem that much better, right?
They damn sure try to channel the pulsating sound that made them famous, at least a couple of times. “Never Ending Summer” is a blatant grab for seasonal buzz, and its possibly the most tolerable track for those who enjoy the band’s older sound, and the lead single, “Hey You,” isn’t the worst thing I have heard. But 90 percent of this album is ultimately forgettable. I’d be embarrassed to be found listening to this disc for pleasure, and I think it goes without saying that I won’t be coming back for more “uplifting.”
Rating: 3.0 out of 10