Collective Soul can always be relied on to deliver a solid album (even 2000's minor misfire Blender still contained a handful of good tunes), and their latest is no exception. Their second self-titled album (destined to be referred to by fans as the 'Rabbit' album) fits snugly alongside their previous two albums, as it mostly continues the bright and snappy pop/rock sound that started with 2004's Youth.
This time, however, the formula works best. While Youth was a bit too glammy (especially for those longing for a return to the post-grunge days), its successor Afterwords was a step in a more natural direction, and this new album brings it even closer to home. There's whistling, handclaps, and lots of backing vocals of the 'ooh and aah' sort, but also plenty of big guitars (and some truly memorable riffs) to keep these songs driving. And while Collective Soul's music hasn't been without loops and other electronic flourishes since 1995, they've mostly gotten back to the feeling of five guys in a room playing rock music.
If a minor complaint is to be made here, it's the monotony that inevitably begins to set in after three albums of more or less the same sound. After successfully re-inventing themselves for 1999's Dosage, and again in 2004 for Youth, I cautiously hope Collective Soul do it once more for album #9, and take us down yet another road. But as long as they can keep rolling out quality songs with their current sound, there's nothing wrong with the road we're on.