The biggest giveaway that a band is as clichéd as any other is the claim that they’re not. Unfortunately, Blue October makes this mistake on its website by professing that the band is not “just your average everyday rock band from Texas.” No, apparently the music deals with such original motifs as “mental depression, drug use, and love” – all themes, which are astoundingly unique and unaddressed by the music community. In addition they claim to reach a “cathartic transcendence.” What does that even mean?
To me, they sound like a secular version of Creed – falling into the same trap of taking themselves too seriously. Lead singer-song writer Justin Furstenfeld has a voice sort of reminiscent of Dave Matthews. He teamed up with his brother Jeremy Furstenfeld along with Ryan Delahoussaye, CB Hudson, and bassist Matt Novesky in Houston, Texas, to form the band in the late nineties.
Even the new album, Foiled, that was released this April, has a decidedly nineties alternative rock flavor. But the band is not totally without merit. For those of us who were teenagers in the late nineties this sound will hold a certain nostalgic value. The song “X-amount of Words” tries to address the pitfalls of dating someone who is “high-strung and bipolar” with a “panic disorder.” Apparently it gets “harder, and harder, and harder.”
For those who are less cynical, “Everlasting Friend” might appeal. Claiming, “I might crumble/ I might take a fall again/ But you’re my everlasting friend,” it’s a typical love-will-get-you-through-hard-times sort of ballad. The song “Overweight” doesn’t deal with over-eating as the title might imply, but is an ode to those relationships that really weigh you down with the words, “Ever carry the weight of another/ For how long?”
If sentimental, “Congratulations” will fill the quota of your forlorn lost love with “My heart/ My Pain/ You left ah-hah-hah-hah.” But this album is not really for those looking for an upbeat addition to a springtime melody. The strumming guitar and standard rock lyrics make for a solid album, if slightly unoriginal. “Drilled a Wire Through My Cheek” is slightly creepy with “I tried to stay on top of you/ To hold your body down/ Your shaking seems to hinder/ Every grasp that I had found.” It sounds more like an attempt to drown another human being instead of lovemaking. It’s a little too S&M for my personal taste, but if that sort of thing blows your hair back, check it out.