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Out Now: ‘Screamer,’ Third Eye Blind’s Somewhat Surprising New Album (Listen)

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There was a time when the thought of a new Third Eye Blind album was nothing but a fantasy in the minds of the band’s fans, long periods of inactivity years after the band’s breakout with 1997’s self-titled album inspiring nothing but concern from those interested in more activity.

It didn’t help that over the years, front man Stephan Jenkins and drummer Brad Hargreaves have remained the only “core” members of the band, a rotating cavalcade of guitarists and bassists coming and going.

But on Friday, Third Eye Blind released its sixth full-length album, Screamer. It comes on the heels of a big summer tour with Jimmy Eat World, and features Jenkins, Hargreaves and the current backing band of Kryz Reid (guitar), Alex LeCavalier (bass) and Collin CreeV (keys/guitar).

The “big guitar” sound of the self-titled album and parts of its follow-up, 1999’s Blue, hasn’t been as much of a part of Third Eye Blind’s material since then, as original guitarist Kevin Cadogan took that with him when he left the band — replaced with, at times, experimentation and leanings into jangly acoustic pop and other avenues, led as always by Jenkins’ lyrics and vocals.

“Ways,” for example, would easily slide in on contemporary satellite radio stations alongside slightly EDM-tinged indie/pop, its summery sound accentuated with some slick production:

Screamer features some interesting collaborations, as well — Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells turns up on the album opening title track, and it’s fresh:

Smashing Pumpkins mastermind Billy Corgan, meanwhile, was listed as the album’s “musical consigliere,” imlying he had some input into what’s going on with this record.

In a chat with Rock Cellar about the summer tour, Stephan Jenkins fired off a quote that more or less sums up his musical vision — and his status as one of rock and roll’s most “feisty” personalities, so to speak:

I’m kind of in the minority, because so much of music has just quit. They’ve acquiesced, they want to be comfortable in the dystopia and I want to fuck shit up. That’s my desire.

There are slight attempts on Screamer to do just that, like the Autotune-soaked “2X Tigers,” which isn’t so much a song as much as a bold foray into studio weirdness for the sake of catching the listener off guard:

 

At this point in Third Eye Blind’s career, it’s a miracle the band is still producing music at all, given the tumultuous band turnover and extended periods of silence over the years.

But Jenkins and his band seem quite confident in where they are at the moment, and while the songs don’t necessarily hit with the same bite or urgency that put them on the map in the late ’90s, there’s enough here for longtime fans to appreciate just the same.

Stream the album below, via Spotify:

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