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Album review: Vertical Horizon's 'Burning the Days'

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Earlier this year, Third Eye Blind proved there's still a lucrative market for late-'90s nostalgia, though that group's latest release, “Ursa Major,” had a vibrancy that made the familiar seem fresh. By comparison, "Burning the Days" -- the first new studio disc in six years from Vertical Horizon, one of the most-played acts on Top 40 radio in the late '90s -- feels flat and lifeless. Guest spots by Richard Marx and Rush drummer Neil Peart do little to help.

There's craft here, to be sure: As a songwriter, frontman Matt Scannell knows precisely how to move between verses and choruses with the sense of inevitability that radio demands. He'd probably do great work in Nashville, penning tunes for artists with the charisma required to take a piece of material from page to stage. Indeed, Gary Allan had a big country hit in 2005 with his version of Vertical Horizon's "Best I Ever Had."

But craft rarely succeeds on its own, and too much of "Burning the Days" highlights the fine line between the universal and the flavorless. These dozen tracks virtually define the middle ground -- not too hard, not too soft; not too fast, not too slow; a little bit country, a little bit rock 'n' roll.

-- Mikael Wood

Vertical Horizon

"Burning the Days"
(Outfall)
One and a half stars
 
Comments () | Archives (3)

I totally disagree with this review. I've been listening to the preview of this CD on Vertical Horizon's Facebook page for a few weeks. I love it! The single "Save Me From Myself" is what got me hooked all the way back in the Spring. The more I hear the tunes the more I love it. I admit, on your first listen, some songs might not jump out at you. But after a few plays the melodies get stuck in my head, and later the lyrics haunt me. The songwriters lyrics show an amazing depth of feeling and thought. I'm not a music reviewer, so it's hard for me to say, but I think the CD is some of their best work.

I'm disappointed in your review. I am used to your reviews being much more descriptive and indepth. Take a little more time next time around. If you were on a deadline, it showed.

Mikael,
Are you kidding me? Did you even listen to this record? This is some of the best guitar driven, pop-rock that anyone has put out in years. It is certainly some of Vertical Horizon's best work. Matt Scannell's talent as a songwriter, guitarist and producer are glaringly obvious from the first track on. Just listen to "Lucky One" (for the first time) and tell me there's not a better song on the radio right now. I'm fairly certain record sales and radio play for "Buring the Days" will prove your opinion completely wrong!

You almost got the review correct... If you can't remember... most 90's tunes didn't jump right out of the stereo and hit you in the face. The majority had vast coolness that at first were vary tacky and sometimes unorthodox for standard songwriting. The thing about the 90's was the catchy factor. Most 90's tunes took a little time to settle in, however, in most cases one would find themselves humming the tunes weeks after hearing them. That's what you'll find with tracks like "Afterglow", "The Lucky One" and "I believe in you".
I do agree with your comment about the variety of music genres on this album, however, isn't that a good thing? How many records get boring after the same format over and over again? The Burning Days album is full of emotion, it takes you low, high, in the middle and back again.
I seriously think you should think about "modern" music and the releases that have been put out in the last 2 years, then listen to the ultimate songwriting and production on the latest effort from Vertical Horizon. I think you'll find that you did not give the group credit where credit is due. Also, you should reconsider your comment about the great Neal Peart and Richard Marx having little impact on this record. Those Drum tracks are perfect and accent each song well.


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