With their 2010 offering, Finger Eleven delivered an album that is sure to be met with a very divisive reaction. On the one hand, the band has taken a giant leap toward radio friendliness, and away from their original sound. To be fair, they have been headed in this direction ever since their self titled album. Fans of the band’s original style and sound, who ripped the band apart with criticism when Them vs. You vs. Me came out in 2007, would now feel like they have been given about a 100 times the reason to criticize this new effort. It’s the most dramatic stray from the original sound yet.
Having said that, while the band took a very safe approach to this album, it was undoubtedly a smart one to take. Capitalizing on the popularity or “Them vs. You vs. Me” mega-hit “Paralyzer”, Finger Eleven made an album which is essentially full of songs performed in a very similar fashion to “Paralyzer”. This is not to say that they sound the same as their big hit, or that one song sounds like another. Of the albums 10 tracks, 9 are like “Paralyzer” in the sense that they are all overwhelmingly catchy, filled with ear pleasing chord progressions, and make it hard for the listener to not tap his/her foot to the beat. On the album’s final track, “Love’s What You Left Me With”, the band slows down a bit, but does not relinquish the catchy nature of the music.
For fans of Finger Eleven’s last two albums, this is an album that contains no “filler” tunes, just a straight 10 song, 32 minutes and 28 seconds piece of pop/rock joy. It is an album which any song plucked from it and played on the radio is nearly guaranteed to climb the charts. From this standpoint, the only true complaint is the length of the album; its hard no to wish it was longer and contained more songs. However, most people would agree that they would rather listen to a just over a half hour long, 10 song record which can be listened to without skipping tracks to get to the good ones, than a much heftier tracked and timed one, which does not provide the listener to nearly as good of a listening experience.
The album opens up the catchy hook of “Any Moment Now”, which turns into a fairly simply versed song, but by the time the chorus comes around again, the listener is already anticipating the catchy guitar hook. Believe it or not however, since this album has few weaknesses (for the type of album it is), the opening song is actually one of the album’s low points.
“Pieces Fit” follows by opening with another catchy little guitar hook, and is joined by another guitar and a drum beat. “Whatever Doesn’t Kill Me” takes the album’s catchy nature to a different level, being the first song to hook the listener with song rather than music. Perhaps unintentionally, the song comes off as a forewarning to critics of the band’s new style. In the very catchy chorus, Scott Anderson sings: “Whatever doesn’t kill me/doesn’t make me stronger/but I’m not gonna give up yet/and if these walls should weaken/I’m still strong enough to know/I’m gonna build them up again”. People don’t have to like where Finger Eleven have gone musically, but as a band they have hit barriers before and been criticized for less, so they’ll be fine. With an album as radio friendly as “Life Turns Electric”, the band is bound to increase their fan base.
“Living In A Dream”, the album’s first single is the 4th track on the album, is probably the song that most resembles “Paralyzer” in its beat and style. However, it carries with it its own unique sound.
At track 5 the album reaches its catchiest 3 song block. “Good Intentions” kicks it off with foot tapping tune that backs the singing with a catchy underlying guitar hook. It’s hard to argue that from a radio friendly point of view, “Stone Soul” which follows, is the catchiest song on the album. It would be shocking if this never makes it a single. While being the album’s short track, it’s the most immediately memorable. “Ordinary Life” is next, and is the album’s longest offering, clocking in at an even 4 minutes. “I just wish the world would sing with me sometimes” sings Anderson, and if performed live, this crowd pleasing bouncer is sure to have a venue full of people singing along, even if it’s the first time they have heard the song.
The eight’s song, “Don’t Look Down” sounds like something that could have possibly fit in well on the band’s 2003 self titled album. It doesn’t quite live up to the catchy nature of its 7 predecessors, but it’s quite a solid piece. “Famous Last Words”, starts with a drum and base combination quietly underlying the lyrics of the verse, making the song sound like a misfit for this record, but when the chorus takes turn, the hooky guitar combined with the beat and the change of pace in lyrics snaps a breath of fresh air back into the song, much like in “Them vs. You vs. Me” track “So-So Suicide” did.
The album’s closer, “Love’s What You Left Me With” finally slows down the pace, fittingly closing out an energy filled group of songs. Thematically, the song of regret over a broken relationship, is a change in mood as well.
Overall, rating this album comes down to basing it on its ability to be enjoyed from start to finish. A fan of Finger Eleven’s now faded original style will probably view this album as the band’s ultimate safe get-away, a fast ride to radio attention, and the abandonment of what the band was when its members began making music. To a fan of enjoyable music (which is relative of course) this album packs a group of 10 excellent songs. Perhaps they are not deep, dark, or vary much in tempo, but it is hard to deny the repeat listen value of this pop-rock gem.