Sound — 5
Well, it's only taken the Eagles 28 years -- during which time they've loosened their loads, stopped letting the sound of their own wheels from driving them crazy, checked out of the Hotel California, and ditched a whole bunch of witchy women -- to record a follow-up to their last studio album, The Long Run, and with this long-awaited double-disc, Long Road Out Of Eden, the one-time new kids in town are definitely taking it easy. Too easy -- the peaceful, easy feeling is now a coma. With almost clinical precision, the band (now down to a quartet; they booted longtime guitarist Don Felder in 2001) Xeroxes the sound and spirit of its biggest hits. So we have here what amounts to a great Eagles covers band: the impeccable vocal harmonies (rendered a cappella on the overwrought opening cut No More Walks in the Woods), the tight-fisted guitar riffs that sound this-close to Life in the Fast Lane, topped off with the occasional slide guitar screech from Joe Walsh. While such stasis may be precisely the point -- why alienate the millions upon millions of fans who made their Greatest Hits, Volume 1 set the biggest-selling album in history? -- it begs the questions: Why? And why did it take so long?
Lyrics — 3
Glenn Frey, Don Henley, and frequent collaborator J.D. Souther know their way around a melody, but where they used to create chilling, modern-day vistas of decadence and avarice, now they merely dabble in paint-by-numbers parables and protestations. In the Seventies and during the much of the Eighties as a solo artist, Henley's pencil was a blood-soaked dagger, but lines like You were just too busy being fabulous/ too busy to think about us sound like they were scrawled by a man leafing through People magazine while killing time in a doctor's waiting room.
Overall Impression — 4
Already a smash in the United States where it's on sale at Wal-Mart and via the Eagles' website, Long Road Out of Eden is pleasing the faithful, those throngs who have packed the band's never-ending farewell tours and corporate concerts. But by crafting an album that replicates the group's classic recordings without offering any new light or shade, the Eagles operate as if they're stuck in a time-warp, and on two discs that's something of a Long Rut.