Art Alexakis isn't a happy guy. He's the poet laureate of falling apart, and Everclear's latest album, Slow Motion Daydream
, is no exception. But while the bandleader's hymns to broken souls, disintegrating situations, and a world gone wrong tread a narrow lyrical path, he nevertheless is uniquely effective at conveying that sense of alienation, despondency, and dread. What saves it all from sinking into the over-romanticized, self-absorbed melancholia of, say, Billy Corgan is that Alexakis refuses to take this as a reason to give up hope. His resolve to persevere in the face "of all the stupid things that I see" is the thematic thread that ties a very good album together.
Musically, Slow Motion Daydream rehashes Everclear's bag of tricks: crunchy riffs, soaring choruses, and a hook-heavy, orchestral approach that earned the band a reputation as the Beach Boys of grunge. A nice mix of up-tempo and down-tempo tunes makes Daydream a better listen than 2000's twin albums Songs From an American Movie Vol. I & II. Like 1998's standout So Much for the Afterglow, this album works as is, abetted by the insidiously catchy "I Want to Die a Beautiful Death" and the single "Volvo Driving Soccer Mom," a humorous anti-Republican screed that suggests what all the porn stars do when the lights go down.