Sound — 8
Definetly very different from past efforts. New additions such as pianos, synths, and violins give it a much more epic sound. However, that's not necessarily a good thing. Those of us accustomed to the old trio will find ourselves asking "Is that really them?" Well it is. The Trio have evolved slightly since Good Mourning, their sound slightly darker, yet poppier. Let me just get one thing out of the way. "The Poison" is utter s--t. That's the only time I have ever said that about a Trio song, and I hope it's the last. 'Nuff said about that. I like all the songs on the album. However, my top favorites are Burn, I Was A Prayer, and Sadie. The only track besides Poison I could have done without was Settle For Satin. Matt is still a good guitarist, whipping out some more solo-ish riffs in this outing, something you won't find on their earlier work. Dan is still the best bassist in the world, when he wants to be. It makes me mad when he does this "Oh, I'll just follow the guitar chords" crap. But from a performing standpoint, I understand its not practical to be all over the neck while you're singing. The sound is much more refined, less sloppy and way more produced. Whether that' good or bad, its up to you to decide.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics are in the same style as Good Mouring, and parts of FHTI by which I mean dark and gothic. You won't find any "I'd love to rub your back" here. I must say, I found the vampiric lyrics of "Your Neck" offputing as that is something I would expect from some crappy goth band, which the trio are not. Lyrics aside, it's a good song. There is one blunder: the motorbike line in Burn. But it's easily forgiven as the chorus is amazing with the line "Everyone learns faster on fire." Some of the tracks can be disturbing with lyrics about the Manson family, the West Memphis Three, and the grisly murders associated with them. Sadie's testimony really hit me and I was a little creeped out for a while. All in all, the trio are the best lyricists out there but theyre subject matter has changed over the years. Matt's voice is still great, but with almost no rasp, which was almost orgasmic on their earlier work. Dan's singing for the most part was mediocre, his voice way overproduced. However he makes up for it on I was a Prayer and then some. It's up to you whether or not you like their new style.
Overall Impression — 10
I was a bit shocked at first listen but I had heard it would be much more mainstream so I was somewhat prepared. To tell you the truth, I didnt listen to this album till about 4 months after it came out because I was scared that my beloved trio might have dissapeared forever. But I was wrong. They're still here and while I like the new sound, I don't ever want to forget the old. In some of the tracks, if you listen very closely, you can hear the trio of the '90s somewhere inside. And that is a good feeling. What I am hoping for on their next album is for them to blend their 2 sounds together into a super-album. Sadly, that doesnt look like it will happen as it looks like the new trio are here to stay. But maybe, just maybe, I will get a taste of the blending of two greatnesses when I go to their show next week.