October 19, 2000

Back From the Bin

Print More

Just when it seemed that the Wallflowers would fade into the obscurity of one-hit wonderdom, Jakob Dylan resurrects his trademark growl for the band’s latest effort, Breach. Despite the apparent corniness of many of the tracks (including barely audible handclaps on the first single “Sleepwalker”), there is an overall pleasantness and sincerity to the album.

The songs themselves vary sufficiently, ranging from the more optimistic and upbeat to the slower, more draining tunes to those almost entirely devoid of instrumentation (see “Up From Under”).

Those who appreciated the 1996 release Bringing Down the Horse will likely feel a similar, if not slightly diluted, affinity to Breach, as the sentiment and poppy folk-rock sound remain fairly consistent.

Lyrically, the new CD strays from the last, as a more resentful tone is apparent, with emphasis on what appears to be a neglected childhood. Tracks like “Letters from the Wasteland” (mentioning several times the “wasteland home”) and “Hand Me Down” suggest such familial discontent rather transparently. The latter includes the viciously suggestive lyrics “you’ll never amount to much/ you won’t be anyone … you’re a hand me down/ it’s better when you’re not around.”

This may be overanalyzing, but it seems a likely situation, considering Dylan is the son of a massively famous singer/ songwriter and trying to navigate the industry without being haunted by the connection.

The aforementioned “Letters from the Wasteland” begins the collection, determined to be a smile inducer (it succeeds). It is reminiscent of the last album’s substantial hit “One Headlight” which first caught our attention way back in the mid-90s. “Letters” is perhaps the best song on the CD, which is unfortunate considering there’s only one place to from there. However, the rest of the album isn’t a completely lost cause.

The next few tracks, although not quite provoking a toe-tap, are not without merit. “Sleepwalker” makes a strong effort, and has a radio-friendly breed of charm. Others are equally good, but as a whole it seems to taper off into the overly thick last shout “Birdcage”. A sweet, subdued hidden track looms after, which helps slightly with the unsatisfactory closing, but is easy to miss or dislike. Breach would be quite appropriate for a backdrop to a rainy day, but it is not something to groove to. It is over-saturated with cheesy organs and twangy riffs that allude subtly to country sounds.

Even if you’re not a fan of the band, I highly recommend the cover art, as the dreamy Dylan is positioned conspicuously as the center of attention in every picture.

Archived article by Stacy Williams