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Counting Crows

Adam Duritz smugly muses on the title track of the Counting Crows new album Hard Candy that "it makes you feel alright but it's just the same hard candy you're remembering again." That's true of many of the songs being served up, mostly for listening pleasure. The problem with 1999's This Desert Life turned out to be overweening angst and incessent self-absorption. This time around, as they say in one track, they just want to have a "Good Time." Songs like the summer classic "American Girls" (with background vocals by Sheryl Crow) recall the Crow's first album, August & Everything After. Duritz seems to have stopped feeling sorry for himself and developed a more mature focus on his songwriting. "Up All Night [Frankie Miller Goes To Hollywood]" serves as a closure to a period of his life where he could get high all night and then sleep all day. The dramatic opus (along with "Miami" and "Goodnight L.A.") relies upon soaring vocals and a swift delivery to mix well with the more upbeat tunes. The Crows also venture into new territory with the new wave-influenced "New Frontier," which looks at America through the eyes of a traveler from London. The song centers around the man's love life and his mispronunciation of the world "aluminum." This type of spontaneity within the album lends to its overall success. The angst has not been abandoned, but the performances are much more succinct and arrive wrapped in a tasty pop wrapper.

More by Michael Peel

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