A good album is like an old friend, especially if it’s been around for a long time. You’ve got real, palpable memories attached to the music. You might even associate an entire chapter of your life with a specific record, or even an individual song. In this way, certain albums can really act as the soundtrack to our lives.
When I was younger, I would get pretty into my favorite bands. I would borderline obsess over what other listeners probably considered minute details, pouring over linear notes and credits just to get a better idea of who this band was and what it might’ve been like to make this album.
One of my several musical obsessions back then was a 90’s alternative group called Eve 6. In case you haven’t heard them, their music is similar in some ways to that of Third Eye Blind — alternative rock slightly tinged with the punchy sound of pop-punk. Once you’ve heard them, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that the two toured together in the late 90’s while riding hits like Eve 6’s “Inside Out“ and Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life.”
But after two successful albums coming in 1998 and 2000, Eve 6’s popularity began to wane along with the group’s ability to function as a band. The group would eventually split in 2004 due in part to the members’ young age (they signed their first record contract before two of the three members were even out of high school), but also due to the alcoholism of lead singer/bassist Max Collins. Fortunately, the group split after they released their third and arguably best album, It’s All In Your Head.
Much rawer than their previous efforts, It’s All In Your Head employs a sound that’s closer in many ways to garage rock than the polished pop-punk sound they’d produced in the past. It kicks off with the raucous tune “Without You Here,” a song whose opening guitar lick seems to set the tone for the rest of the record — discouraged, disheartened, but at the same time not taking itself too seriously.
“Too scared to pray, my eyes are too dilated to see. Without you here, I feel my fear.”
This song lays the groundwork of the album perfectly, tapping into the record’s theme of coming of age as a young adult in new, unfamiliar territory. Collins is recognizing the vulnerability felt when left alone without someone you’ve grown accustomed to having around. It’s a classic moment of growing up, presented in song form.
“Go down to the corner to call collect, Your mother wants to know, are you happy yet? Waiting for someone to come along and find you.”
“At Least We’re Dreaming” is chirpy and optimistic track, lightheartedly the difficulties of living on your own and learning to function in a world of uncertainty — particularly in regards to what you want in life. The album’s lead single, “Think Twice,” is much darker in both lyric and musical content, detailing an adulterous affair and accenting this theme with crashing guitars the likes of which the band had never explored previously. These are certainly two of the best songs on the album, but I’d say this as a fairly deep album in terms of quality, citing a few more songs as examples:
I’d say aside from the album’s two singles, these are the strongest songs on the record. “Arch Drive Goodbye,” a song whose title is all too fitting for a band that played their last show before splitting up beneath the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, is a powerful track built around a solid chorus that begins rather quietly and builds into a hooky, power-chord-laden tune.
Moving into the second half of the album, “Friend of Mine” is one of the stronger songs both musically and lyrically. Seemingly born from a very dark place, the track encapsulates an urgently encouraging, positive message within unpolished-yet-uplifting music. It’s heavier subject matter than Eve 6 has ever dealt with, and it’s also a departure from the simpler song structure they usually employ.
Following “Friend of Mine” in track listing, “Girlfriend” seems to be a loosely disguised attempt to replicate the success of previous hit “Here’s to the Night,” although in my opinion it actually ended up outdoing its predecessor. This song seems to ache with more emotion than “Here’s to the Night” did, and above all else, it’s a song you can listen to over and over again and still enjoy. “Hokis” is an anomaly among Eve 6 songs, with a hard-hitting sound and a name that means who-knows-what. It’s an antsy track that builds into something very memorable, although I’m not sure that I could see it making an impact as a single because of its fretful nature.
The album is full of songs that are much different than anything on the first two Eve 6 albums, and it’s great to see a band push themselves into a different creative direction. Going from a fairly strict pop-punk sound to something much more raw and experimental, Eve 6 takes a chance on this record and it pays off in a great way for the listener.
Overall Grade: A-
Have a favorite Eve 6 song or album? Let me know… I’m sure we could talk song meanings! Leave a comment below!