Sound — 7
Good or bad, Finger Eleven is an extremely radio-friendly band that has found a comfortable niche in the world of FM airplay. With an equal blend of accessible ballads and danceable rock songs, the band's 5th studio release Them Vs. You Vs. Me is a respectable offering for the most part. For fans of bands that bring a bit more of an edge to their music, however, Finger Eleven will likely leave them a bit disappointed.
This is not to say there aren't more than a few catchy singles on the latest release from Finger Eleven (vocalist Scott Anderson, guitarists James Black and Rick Jackett, bassist Sean Anderson, and drummer Rich Beddoe). The first track Paralyzer has that same groove-oriented, funky feel that you get in Franz Ferdinand's Take Me Out. It's a solid song that emphasizes the band's talent as a whole, but some may feel it resembles Franz Ferdinand's single a little too closely. It's primarily due to the intro and the song quickly gains it's own identity. With all it's familiarity, it still is a very infectious track.
Even with the band setting the stage with the energetic opener Paralyzer, the ballads still take up a big chunk of the playlist. While it's respectable of the band to showcase it's sentimental side and there are a few moving moments in the ballads, it is the faster-tempo songs that are a bit more memorable. Change The World is a ballad that begins with a restrained piano line and restrained acoustic, but eventually builds up to feature percussion and what sounds like a whole string section. While it is cool that Finger Eleven slowly builds layers with each section, the base songwriting is just not that unique.
There are quite a few cool, funky riffs throughout the record, and those really do help draw you into the faster songs. The last track Easy Life combines both the funky and softer side of the band, making it a standout track. It actually gets progressively slower (until the big finale, that is) and has a haunting, higher-pitched guitar line being played over the quieter vocals. This technique, along with what an added slide guitar at the end, gives the song a whole different feel than the other tracks and does show the band is thinking outside the box.
Lyrics — 6
Finger Eleven's lyrics vary wildly, with the ballads often bearing the best and the worst. On a song like Change The World, there does seem to be a cheesy element to it all. Anderson sings, I just want the best for you, girl; But I don't think I really know what that means; I know you bring out the best of me. Now, the content definitely has a sweet sentiment that could touch some listeners, but the majority will probably feel that it's just a bit too predictable.
Window Song features some interesting imagery and demonstrates that the band has more to offer than a few other songs might indicate. Anderson sings, All the windows are playing their game; Where I won't see outside again; Till I write all the fog away. It's nice to hear lyrics that go beyond just the usual emotional content, and Window Song is a good example of how the band is able to take a ballad and make it more than just a sappy love song.
Overall Impression — 7
There are quite a few ballads on the record that just don't have the originality that the faster tracks, and that's really where the band falls short. There will be those who probably like emotionally driven songs like Change The World, but those tracks still don't make a huge impression musically.
Finger Eleven has already established a strong fan base and made it's way into the public eye just fine (the band's self-titled record made it to #4 on the Top Canadian Albums chart and various singles have been featured in movies), but it's hard to say if the band will be capable of breaking free from being just a singles band. The band shows it's best on Paralyzer, but they do have a few tracks like Sense Of A Spark and Easy Life that have unique tempos and indicate there is a lot of talent present in the quintet.