One thing you can never criticize Art Alexakis of is being a quitter. Since 2003, Alexakis and Everclear haven’t been household names but he’s kept going. Even with a different lineup. Times and tastes change and when Everclear’s final album for Capitol didn’t do that well, the band went into the background and nothing they did seemed to be that relevant. Welcome to the Drama Club had very little shelf life and what it did have was because of the group’s crazy video for “Hater.” In a Different Light was an album filled with a bunch of songs Alexakis remade but the reaction to that 429 Records release was next to nothing. So much so, that Everclear basically rereleased the same record as Return to Santa Monica, (with a few different songs chosen and some covers added in) for Coraline Records two years later. While promoting those two remake/covers albums, Alexakis had been saying completely new material was in the works, and in 2012 he’s making good on that with the release of a new Everclear album, Invisible Stars.
Outside of the immediately recognizable vocal by Alexakis the production has always gotten an instant reaction for this group. I had never heard a twang in a rock guitar until Everclear did it and I’ve never heard anybody replicate that sound. On Invisible Stars that sound is here in the places it’s supposed to be but it’s been updated because recording gear and production tools have been updated too. The trademark Everclear guitar sound has been updated and it sounds wonderful and you can go across the board with these twelve songs on this album and really marvel at the production. Art produced this himself and he really should be commended for it. It sounds amazing, from the piano in the intro of “Jackie Robinson” to the kickass punk track “Falling in a Good Way,” it’s all great.
Alexakis’ intensely personal lyrics and stories he tells with them have always been the heart of the band. Invisible Stars stands out in that aspect over everything the group has released but the band’s initial highlights in their catalogue. There are some cool songs inspired by the frontman’s childhood and some more recent topics too. At the very least, Everclear fans cynical about this lineup/form of the band can say Alexakis is back in form lyrically.
This album won’t get the reaction it would have had in 2001. If this album were released back then, it would immediately be some of the band’s best work. Obviously that’s not the case and it can’t be. Here’s the thing though, Everclear hasn’t put out anything close to this good since before the Songs From An American Movie days and that’s something to celebrate.