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    Collective Soul:

    Youth

    Mon, 15 Nov 2004 16:11:12

    Album Reviews: Youth by Collective Soul

    Coming on the heels of a long hiatus, Youth marks a back-to-basics approach for Collective Soul. Their sixth studio album is being released on their own imprint label, and the band -- once chart darlings -- is embracing starting over, playing the same venues they played prior to the #1 hits.

    Both the good and the bad news is that Collective Soul hasn’t changed much since their heyday. Youth is the sound of a band frozen in time. They still have a knack for gigantic choruses and cloyingly contagious riffs and harmonies. Their earnest ballads (“How Do You Love,” “Satellite”) and politely rocking anthems (“Better Now,” “Home”) are predictable, but better executed than most of their adult-alternative peers. Ed Roland’s voice hasn’t aged a day; it sounds like he could still be freshly belting out “Shine” or “Gel.”

    Unfortunately, though, Youth lacks the home run single that was a staple on earlier albums. Lead single “Counting The Days” tries, but its muscular guitars are undercut by a surprisingly tepid chorus. Also, the rare breaks from textural form -- canned orchestration, skittish synthesizers -- mostly flounder. They’ve got one setting, but they use it well (the best embodiment is on “Under Heaven’s Skies”). So a return album that could have been an embarrassment instead serves as a natural extension of the catalog. Old skeptics certainly won’t be won over, but the old fans should be pleased. - Adam McKibbin

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