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Third Eye Blind - Third Eye Blind
Third Eye Blind - Third Eye Blind
Record Label: Elektra Records
Release Date: April 8, 1997
All aficionados develop different criteria to judge music. There’s no perfect method or standardized opinion, and we’ll argue about an album’s merits long past its release. Some value relatable or poetic lyricism, others require clean production, heavy riffage, or any number of other perfectly acceptable benchmarks. What makes Third Eye Blind’s debut record sensational is its ability to excel in so many regards.
There’s a reason my pre-pubescent 11-year-old self loved this record: it’s catchy. Roaming the halls of elementary school, I sang of love ruined by methamphetamine addiction, spending the whole god damn day in bed, and getting my punk-ass off the street. Maybe not appropriate subject matter for a sixth grader, but Stephen Jenkins’s delivery appealed to ears of all ages. It’s not an accident that the record spent two full years on the Billboard Top 200, selling 6 million copies along the way - these songs are radio gold. Few melodies are as memorable as “Semi-Charmed Life” or “Jumper,” songs 15 years old that still receive regular airplay.
As I grew up, I developed a taste for technicality. Anyone can play power chords - I expected professionals to up the ante. More than that, I yearned for music that could combine accessibility with phenomenal musicianship, a balance rarely achieved. Kevin Cadogan found that musical nirvana. Take those bouncy verses in “Losing A Whole Year” or the no-strum-intro and signature riff to “Graduate;” tricks like that were never found in radio rock during that era, and haven’t been since. Then there’s his alternate tunings - show me another guitarist with Top 10 hits in FACFGE, DADFAD, or FADFAE. Even as today’s guitarists employ new techniques and reach higher levels, none do so within the confines of pop/rock. Bassist Arion Salazar and drummer Brad Hargreaves brought the same talent and understanding, providing more than a simple rhythm section. All three musicians comprised one of the most interesting instrumental sections pop/rock has ever seen, with Third Eye Blind serving as exhibit A.
More than anything, the songwriting itself deserves recognition. Mapping out the rhyme schemes or structuring to these songs is an absolute nightmare. “Narcolepsy” does what ever it wants, throwing extended instrumental sections everywhere while staying a sing-along. Even fan-favorite “Motorcycle Drive By” is anything but usual, thanks to its slow rise and lack of a true chorus. What’s more is the this advanced songwriting came on their debut album, showing a comprehension most veteran songwriters don’t have. Jenkin’s hybrid singing-rapping only added another dimension to the equation, completing a unique style few could dream to emulate.
I’ve barely scratched the tip of the iceberg. I could rant on and on about the dynamics across the 14 tracks, their social relevancy, how frequently Third Eye Blind is quoted as a major influence to current bands, Jenkin's lyrics, or several other reasons why I’ve firmly dubbed this my favorite album of all-time. If you need a testament to this record’s strength, realize I didn’t even mention Top 10 single “How’s It Going To Be” or the gorgeous “God Of Wine,” songs that deserve analysis all their own. The wealth of music here is unmatched in my mind, and quickly becoming timeless. Rarely can I dedicate a truly uninterrupted hour to an album, yet self-titled earns that privilege regularly. I spent half my rent on the original 1997 vinyl, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Long live Third Eye Blind.