The latest Counting Crows album suffers from Goldilocks Syndrome — parts of it are too hard, parts are too soft and the rest is just about right. The concept here was that the record’s first half represents the “Saturday nights,” with hard-rocking and much mayhem, while the rest calls to mind “Sunday mornings,” and the gentler comedowns they provide. The idea would have worked better over two discs, but presented as one album of fourteen songs it seems less like a high concept than a purposeless and jarring shift in tone.
That said, there is a lot to like here. Once I got past the uncharacteristic noisiness of the early tracks, I was able to appreciate the songcraft. In fact, I favor the album’s first a half a bit more than the sleepier second half, where the melodies are a bit harder to pick out. Measured against the Crows’ four other albums, I see this one toward the bottom, battling it out with Recovering the Satellites for last place. But that’s more a testament to how exceptional I find the other three. This is a keeper, just not up to the standards of their best work.