red lights


One fumble after another

Blue October - Foiled
1 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Aug. 31, 2006
Blue October

Review by Andy Argyrakis

Houston's Blue October knows what it feels like to make a false start after signing with Universal in 2000, but being dropped shortly thereafter. Strangely enough the group was picked back up three years later from the very company that tossed them to the curb, which has remained home ever since. The recently released Foiled comes on the heels of the hit single "Calling You," which scored a soundtrack slot in "American Wedding" and was the catalyst for the quintet to get their deal back. And thanks to prominent appearances at both this year's Hedgepeth Festival and Lollapalooza, that project's first single "Hate Me" has already been following closely behind the last smash's footsteps and giving the guys' additional attention beyond their core fan base.

But just because there's a lot of attention on the band doesn't mean the new disc is worth checking out thanks to an odd assortment of influences that don't match up with Blue October's current sonic personality. For starters, singer Justin Furstenfeld sounds a wannabe Peter Gabriel trying out for Sunny Day Real Estate while his backers muses range from the Flaming Lips to Pink Floyd to Joe Satriani. That bizarre concoction turns out like a bunch of prog/space/shred rock disciples trapped in a directionless band's body trying to appease each player's whims. The dreamy "You Make Me Smile" kicks off the disc with the front man's glazed over groans over rough necked beats that never expand beyond the sanitary. That safety net continues to be spread over the hazy "She's My Ride Home" and the manufactured jock rock of "What If We Could," further solidifying the project's uncertain identity.

Despite the spins its received, "Hate Me" is particularly grating, kicking off with an answering machine message from the fictitious character's mother that swirls with dark guitars and jittery moans that would've worked better in a Staind song than a group claiming much more astute tastes. "Everlasting Friend" is pure sleepiness, revolving around a bland mid-tempo shuffle and straight forward singing over saccharine lyrics of a devoted relationship as it shifts over time. This project's only saving grace is "Congratulations" and that's because the beautiful Imogen Heap guests as a supporting vocalist. The former Frou Frou singer has often been compared to the likes of Kate Bush or Tori Amos, adding a graceful, almost supernatural appeal to the sauntering ballad. At most, consider downloading that single song because the rest of Foiled is merely one fumble after another.

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