Hootie & the Blowfish - “Imperfect Circle” Album Review

Story posted November 8, 2019 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by William Roche

Of the many bands that survived the ‘90s (Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam and the Dave Matthews Band to name a few), did Hootie & the Blowfish survive as well, or did they simply renew themselves to be part of the revival fad? With their first album “Cracked Rear View” being the best-selling album of 1995, it seems like the band led by lead singer Darius Rucker has high hopes to return to that glory by reviving their ‘90s sound in the modern day.

On their sixth album “Imperfect Circle,” Hootie & the Blowfish put together a collection of songs that transport longtime fans back into the ‘90s. They’re not necessarily doing anything new, but the album has its own place separate from the solo work of Rucker.

“New Year’s Day” starts off the album with a strong electric guitar that instantly grabs the listener’s attention. alongside the pleasant hook: “Make a toast to all those champagne castaways/Come on, babe, let's kiss just like it's New Year's Day.” The title and lyrics, possibly a metaphor for bringing the band into a new generation of listeners, does not disappoint as it transitions into the next track “Miss California.”

“Miss California” has subtly funny lyrics like “Blue jean shorts and a sweater/I didn't know if she was hot or cold,” and a perfect made-for-radio hook that crescendos up from the verses, “When she comes in and out like a wave/She puts her moonlight lips on my face and she goes/ There she goes, miss California.” This song brings back the Hootie that everyone knows and loves, featuring subtly clever lyrics, a fun hook that portrays California as a woman that people can’t get out of their minds, and a short, radio run time.

However, “Imperfect Circle” hits a stale point as it fades into the meat of the album. “Turn It Up” introduces a cheesy trumpet riff and a cliché hook: “I said, turn it up/When I've had enough/I wanna feel the love/Turn it up (Turn it up, up).” Truthfully, it brings nothing that any listener of popular music hasn’t heard before. Other similar, stale songs include “Hold On,” “Lonely on a Saturday Night” and “Everyone but You.”

There are other standout tracks, however. “We Are One” is a short song—about two minutes— and is a bright acoustic jam that makes up for its lackluster lyrics, which the listener can let slide because of Rucker’s tremendous vocals. Despite having a very successful solo country career, Rucker doesn’t sound country at all here, and the family-friendly songs that he provides vocals for on this album can be played in any grocery store.

The album closes with “Change,” a slow-tempo song that highlights Rucker’s vocals once again. The instrumental track lowered in volume, so the listener is able to hear the lyrics and meaning behind them through the strong vocal notes that Rucker is still able to hit. The lyrics, “And how the kids have grown/You can't turn back the clock,” emphasize that Hootie & the Blowfish are not young anymore. They are past their ‘90s phase and are trying to bring themselves into 2019, which they accomplish fairly well with this album.

With a good beginning and a good ending to “Imperfect Circle,” longtime Hootie fans will love the album for its nostalgia, and new fans will be introduced to the band via the tracks that highlight Hootie’s strong points: subtly clever lyrics and strong, unique vocals by Darius Rucker. It does seem that this album is more so part of the revival fad that has taken place within the past few years rather than a true return to the musical forefront, but no one will care because the band, despite its faults, is back and has not changed.

Rating: 7/10

Reviewer’s Favorite Track: “Miss California”

Reviewer’s Least Favorite Track: “Turn It Up”

 

William Roche is a junior majoring in film-video. To contact him, email wtr5043@psu.edu.