An encrusted jewel formed into the seabed of ’90s pop-rock, Third Eye Blind’s debut self-titled is an anthem driven with melodies … clean hooks and as many pop culture references you can shake a leg at.
The level of attentionThird Eye Blind received from labels within even an EP to their name, albeit reflected the unrelenting bullish state the industry saw itself in, in the pre-Napster peak of the 1990s. The stalwart flagship of CDs and their many, many sales. Now, a near distant memory as we crane our necks to the Swedes’ Spotify algorithms. An unsigned act shaking hands on a $1.2 million deal with Elektra was not necessarily unheard of, just really really f*cking uncommon.
As the prevailing sound of down-trodden grunge became a saturated peak into the decade, a mass rise of a brighter earnest version of pop-rock peaked out of the curtains. While Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden churned on with the alternative sound of the disgruntled, the likes of Third Eye Blind opted for a more sunny side up kind of morning, choosing a melodic revival more fitting to the cavalries of ’70s sounds.
A song all about crystal meth and oral sex – aswell as a play on Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side, Semi-Charmed Life was a perfect setlist companion to the spritelyradios and MTV alongside Sublime, Cake and Peppers. More on the nose, Semi-Charmed Life is a taking-on-the-world kinda song. Sun on your skin, your first romance, even your first *ahem* bump, the branchild of Stephan Jenkins first open-mic riff was an opener into the catatonic turn for the band with the ironic name who seemingly came from nowhere.
The unrelenting hooks and easy fallbacks were meant to sound like amphetamines —“bright and shiny on the surface, and then it just pulls you down in this lock-jawed mess,” Jenkins explained. Much like lock-jaw, Semi-Charmed Life was a wilful disease, filtering through our radios, our boomboxes, even in our CD players hanging loose from our corduroys or even as we whacked on our favourite teen film, ’99’s American Pie and ’98’s Dirty Work.
Hell, even secondary follow-up Jumper featured in Jim Carrey’s Yes, Man as he beckoned fellow cast comrade Luis Guzmán from the ledge in ’08. Rising thrill Jumper, gritty Graduate, How’s It Going To Be, I Want You, tightened notch Motorcycle Drive By. The whole album is littered with melodic beauties, sweetened acoustics and falsetto Lozenge that melt into a perfect alternative ’90s pop-rock album filled with bittersweet nostalgia.
Much like the band’s stylised imagery, however, of Icarus flying too close to the sun, the same imagery would evidently lead to the band’s downfall, as they wouldn’t really go on to produce the same dizzying heights as follow-up Blue in 1999. More so a fond one-hit wonder machine, Jenkins will be a civilised relic set to the ’90s for all time.