Third Eye Blind – Third Eye Blind
Released April 8, 1997
Debut records are tricky. Naming your debut record by your band name is even trickier. If you think your band is great enough to enter the world with only your band name plastered on the cover of your album artwork, you’ve got some nerve. Starting a career this way leaves plenty of room for judgment and shows extreme vulnerability. It’s a showcase of who you are and for a while might be your only material released, leaving fans and critics alike to ponder what is going to come next.
Third Eye Blind burst onto the scene in the late 90’s with their (now six-time platinum selling) debut record, Third Eye Blind, with singles that many people recognize such as “Semi Charmed Life”, “Jumper” and “How’s It Going To Be”. The album was co produced by Eric Valentine and lead singer Stephan Jenkins himself and is currently still the best selling album by the group. It has become a staple of late 90’s alternative music and continues to be an inspiration twenty years after its initial release.
These fourteen full length songs take many turns throughout the hour long ride but it won’t leave you dizzy when it’s over. With themes of drug abuse, suicide, toxic relationships and loss (among many other things) woven through pop melodies and killer guitar pieces, the entire thing stays very enjoyable regardless of how heavy the initial message may become. For example, “Motorcycle Drive By” starts off with a slow guitar intro and right after the lyrics say “I’ve never been so alone/ And I’ve never been so alive” the song bursts into a guitar solo that makes the listener forget what they just heard if they’re not careful enough. Nobody seems to notice when “Semi Charmed Life” goes “Doing crystal meth will lift you up until you break” because it just sounds so upbeat, right? “God Of Wine” is another one that begins gradually and adds heavier instrumentals throughout which distracts the listener about what the words actually mean. There are some tracks on here that are from an autobiographical standpoint, such as “Graduate”, “Burning Man” and “Narcolepsy” while other ones are aimed at a specific person as demonstrated in “The Background” and “Losing A Whole Year”. Moving past the lyrical portion of the tracks, the music and vocals associated with them are mesmerizing and do just as good of a job at evicting emotion from the listener. The drumming is even, there are solos and riffs in all the right places and the vocals are perfectly blended on top of it all. There isn’t one track on this entire thing that becomes uncomfortable or awkward; the production was handled perfectly, if I do say so myself.
The musical and lyrical component of this album are simply phenomenal but what truly leaves a mark is the underlying message of the individual songs and the project as a whole. Throughout all those sing along moments and instrumentals is a great representation of how we try to cover up our flaws but underneath we all have problems we can’t ignore. I find that with music that tries to be relatable and emotional like this normally turns out sappy and somber. Yet, nothing about this feels forced or fake; the songs don’t beg the reader to feel bad for anybody nor do they feel unnatural. This record allows the listener to hear what they want and feel whichever way they choose, and that’s probably my favorite thing about it.
Debut records might be tricky but Third Eye Blind has proven that theirs doesn’t disappoint.