I’m familiar with Everclear from their softer, later hits but I’d always heard “they used to be louder”. Well, I can confirm, that is indeed true.
Alexakis is a decent songwriter. He has a pretty good sense of melody – though not necessarily great to some of his contemporaries – and he tries really hard when it comes to lyrics. That might sound a little mean, but I definitely think it’s safe to say that, though these lyrics are thoughtful, they are not necessarily good. He’s trying to tell stories and he’s got a fair amount of ambition in his lyrics for the musical world he’s coming from, but the result is a little bit sub sub Springsteen – literal stories without any poetry – with some confessional stuff thrown in for good measure. (How much is confessional, how much is observational, I don’t know and don’t particularly care.)
The thing that sells these songs is the relative edge the band has compared to their post-grunge contemporaries. They definitely have preserved more of it than many of those bands, at least most of the time. There’s more of a punky edge to this music than most contemporary post grunge, and that’s certainly refreshing.
Of course the record ensures you know this: though the takes themselves are imperfect the sound of the album itself is pretty damn slick. That’s actually an impressive balancing act, especially 25 years later, as it hasn’t dated production wise. If I wasn’t more aware of the greater context I might not even notice it was post-grunge. My biggest quibble is probably the mix, as Alexakis’ vocals are pretty forward in the mix compared to the guitars (which should be further forward). But, as post grunge albums go, I think the sound is pretty good.
Honestly, I sort of expected to be more critical. I don’t think the songs are the greatest, but I admire his ambition to be more of a songwriter than necessary (for this type of music). And it’s loud enough you can sort of forget what it is.