Dave Matthews’ new sound spites old fans

The Dave Matthews Band begins to imitate its own sound. Its new album, Everyday (BMG/RCA), takes what was once a unique sound and slaps it with a brand of packaged pop music. The new release is depressing enough to make even the most devoted college student fan forget the band’s three respectable studio albums and shun DMB as common MTV garbage.

Gone on this album are the spiritual songs such as “The Dreaming Tree” and “Dancing Nancies” and the collegiate anthems like “Satellite” or “The Best of What’s Around.” Songs on the new album lack the extra boost that made previous efforts so extraordinary. The tracks do not even pass for filler on any other DMB album. The entire album has a quasi-Dave Matthews feel, sounding more like a high school band playing at an open mic than the DMB of old. Of course, high school bands don’t charge $100 for concert tickets.

The addition of superstar producer Glen Ballard, who rocketed Canadian songbird Alanis Morrisette to worldwide stardom in the mid-’90s, to the Everyday team was heralded by the band as the perfect component to help the band evolve. But Ballard may have, in fact, taken away tunes that connect fans with the band.

“I Did It,” the first single off the album, beats the listener over the head with the same chorus, leaving innocent bystanders caught up in the catchy melee. While a somewhat satisfactory DMB song, fans would still expect to see “I Did It” on an album only if surrounded by a higher level of tracks. For sheer novelty, the occasional violins are haphazardly laced in through the track and the rest of the album. Instead of lifting the lyrics to existential heights, they portray the image of a band trying to catch up with its own domineering image.

Most songs on Everyday are lyrically driven, making instrumentals solely a buffer that bounces the mediocre verses. Lyrically driven songs are typically acceptable when bred by first-class songwriting, but trite words and too many painful similes drag down the subtle and uninspired melodies.

The title track “Everyday” gives the same rhetorical plea for universal love listeners have heard since The Beatles first hopped the pond. The chorus, which repeats lines such as “All you need is,” “All you want is” and “All you need is love,” echoes a hackneyed message of universal love accompanied with mildly stimulating flow of music. The second-rate harmony of the song is overshadowed by the band’s dull refrain of epitomes better exemplified by the likes of John Lennon and Lenny Kravitz.

The song “Angel” is an unmemorable, apathetic play on a song title, shameful to classify with the songs of the same name by Aerosmith and Jimi Hendrix.

The influence of Glen Ballard, who also worked with Van Halen during the band’s greatest hits compilation, is cumbersome throughout the album, particularly in the tuned-up guitars on “Dreams of Our Fathers,” “So Right,” “I Did It” and “Fool to Think.” Latent Eddie Van Halen style guitars lead into “Dreams of Our Fathers,” a far cry from DMB’s typical mellow but powerful electric strings.

“Mother Father,” perhaps the only song with a true fire under its belly, imports Santana-style Latin guitar riffs under the one pleasing refrain on the album filled with unchecked abuse of the words “love” and “dream.”

Despite lyrically disappointing tracks, jazzy saxophone interludes, seemingly inserted to remind the listener of the golden Under the Table and Dreaming days, counterattack any positive epiphany of rhythm. In “So Right,” the combination of background saxophone, with the theme of “love is good,” equate the song with old Michael Bolton tunes rather than the Dave Matthews Band.

The band’s newly discovered electrical guitar bridges and other instrumental interludes in “Sleep to Dream Her” make the listener wish the song would end before the song drags through any more counterfeit jam sessions. Other tracks harbor Matthews’ awkward wailing and chanting, almost a sadly ludicrous imitation of his early work.

Popular saturation has been the problem with The Dave Matthews Band songs since the beginning of their popularity, spreading a fan’s special connection with a song over a diverse base of similar followers. Even so, fans have kept an intrinsic connection with the music, singing along to Mathews appealing wailings.

The band has taken fan affection and familiarity for granted, producing nearly an entire album of low-grade tracks centered around uninspired musical experiments and lyrics that could have been written ten minutes before studio time. The three live albums DMB produced around the release of Before These Crowded Streets retained a divine connection with fans. With Everyday, a mere shadow of past albums, the band lost that connection.

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