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These thirteen tracks fairly glow with MOR wholesomeness, and are enlivened only occasionally by some good old-fashioned musical kick
Nadine O Regan, 23 Jul 2002
Counting Crows mainman Adam Duritz is in serious danger of turning into Tim Finn. That’s to say that, like the ex-Crowded House lynchpin, Duritz has started to create the kind of heartfelt, earnest music that arouses interest rather than excitement, respect rather than love.
Passion is, for the most part, conspicuous only by its absence on Hard Candy. These thirteen tracks fairly glow with MOR wholesomeness, and are enlivened only occasionally by some good old-fashioned musical kick.
‘American Girls’ is the best song here by some distance – a joyous ode to the heartbreaking beauty of American booty, complete with Beach Boys-style harmonies and a brilliantly sparky outro. ‘New Frontier’ is also stylish and funky, while ‘Holiday In Spain’ comes across as dainty and sweet.
Lyrically, Duritz shines. Every line on this album resonates with meaning and poetical grace. The timbre of his voice is also excellent, flitting from fragile to strong, cracked to angelic – all within the space of a breath.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of these tracks lack the kind of crucial hook that would have made them special. Often, instead of focusing tightly on the tune at hand, Duritz chooses to meander around the scales in the hope of building the song up to something a little more exciting. Occasionally his tactic works, frequently it doesn’t.
For the most part, this is the sound of an album stranded somewhere in between the quite good and the great.
One to borrow rather than buy.