Verdict: 2.5 / 5
(Or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation)
The Crows emerge from a four-year hiatus to deliver an album of covers by some of their favourite artists.
Personally, Counting Crows have always been a difficult band to digest. Yes, I like ‘Mr Jones’ as much as the next person but to my ears their music usually sounded flavourless and bland. Hence, I’ve always perceived the Crows as good but an uninspiring bunch of tunesmiths. Does their new album break this cast I have encased them in? Regrettably it does not. ‘Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did on Our Summer Vacation)’ affirms my initial assessment. The album has a great vibe, chilled, relaxed even gritty at times with plenty of roots rock jamming. The vibe might be great but a record needs good songs and good performances to make it worthwhile. There are some famous songs by Bob Dylan (You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere) and Fairport Convention (Meet Me on the Ledge) that are good but Duritz’s dry vocal style and the album’s over simplified arrangements hurt the better songs on the album. While on the other hand tracks like ‘Untitled (Love Song)’ and ‘Hospital’ might make great jams but in song writing terms the songs lack strong melodies, and enticing chord progressions.
Even though I’m not the greatest Counting Crows fan I do like the band’s no frills approach to song writing as well as their honest and simple style but even a long-time fan will have to agree that ‘Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did on Our Summer Vacation)’ is an iffy release.