FINGER ELEVEN DELIVER SUB-PAR EFFORT WITH “THEM VS. YOU VS. ME”
Canada’s Finger Eleven might not be as well known to those in the US as to our friends north of the border. Having lived in the Detroit area for 5 years, I probably had more exposure to Finger Eleven than most Americans, as one of the area’s two rock radio stations 89X was actually broadcast from across the river in Canada (Canada’s radio broadcasts are subject to content laws stipulating that a certain percentage of what they play must be by Canadian artists). Four years after their most recent release, this alt-metal outfit is back with their latest Them Vs. You Vs. Me, a mostly uneven affair that quickly loses steam.
Finger Eleven scored their breakthrough with the massive radio hit “Bones + Joints” from 2000’s Greyest of Blue Skies, off of which “First Time” also received significant radio play. The band’s 2003 self-titled affair was a surprisingly decent album, yielding hard-hitting rockers like “Complicated Question” and “Stay in Shadow,” the latter of which again scored big for the band. But the band’s finest moment undoubtedly came from the acoustic atmospherics of “One Thing,” which was a big hit with MTV and radio and earned the band a gold record.
After an extended break the band is back with their latest, Them Vs. You Vs. Me. The album starts off promisingly enough with “Paralyzer,” with its upbeat dance-rock beat introducing a new element to the band’s sound. Unfortunately the momentum pretty much dies immediately thereafter, alternating between mid-tempo, mediocre alt-rock songs and slower, dreamy acoustic numbers. It’s unclear whether songs like “Window Song” are an attempt to recreate the success of “One Thing” or if this is genuinely the musical direction the band has chosen. Them Vs. You Vs. Me certainly favors mid-tempo alt-rockers over the heavy riffage that the band often displayed in their past efforts, which is a shame because Scott Anderson’s grovelly voice is at its best on the heavier tracks. The album is not without other enjoyable moments, though; “Gather and Give” is a catchy mid-tempo mix of electric and acoustic guitars with a great vocal melody.
In a display of the band’s musical intentions (or, perhaps, the intentions of their label Wind-Up Records), they will be on tour this year in support of Chevelle and Evanescence. I’ll pass.
(two out of five horns)