CD Review of Them VS. You VS. Me by Finger Eleven

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Them VS. You VS. Me
starstarstarno starno star Label: Wind-Up Records
Released: 2007
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Right smack in the middle of track seven, “Change the World,” Finger Eleven frontman Scott Anderson sings the line “Cause I’m the world’s biggest fan of clichés.” From a lyrical standpoint, I take this as a confession disguised by the band’s sound, which is so radio-friendly that I now think I have diabetes from all the sugar I just ingested from F11’s latest disc, Them VS. You VS. Me.

That first paragraph would probably lead you to believe that I’m going to trash this record like last week’s leftovers, but that’s not the case. It’s hard to completely dog a band when they have progressed musically as well as F11 has. They may be mainstream rock radio’s dream, but they can also play. Guitarists James Black and Rick Jackett have loads of fun with effects, various influences, and instrument interplay. They keep F11 interesting, even when the songs seem a threat to bore.

Them VS. You VS. Me is most definitely a mixed bag, though, ranging from dance night numbers (the lead single, “Paralyzer”) to punk-inspired (the next single, “Falling On”) to funk-influenced (“Lost My Way”) to good old-fashioned make-every-girl-at-the-concert cry-with-my-acoustic-guitar (“Window Song”). It’s difficult to try and nail where Finger Eleven is going with all this. “Paralyzer” probably has the most teeth (even if the lead riff is a complete rip-off of The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside” – why is no one talking about that?), but it’s the first tune on the disc. The middle is bogged down by whiny acoustic blunders like “Window Song” and “Change the World.” “So-So Suicide” has the attitude that longtime fans will find largely absent with this release.

Finger Eleven is bound to see more success with this album. They do have a tendency to wait years between records (this is their first since 2003’s self-titled disc), but give them credit for milking it for all it’s worth. You’re not likely to see “Paralyzer” lifted from the rotation anytime soon, so my best advice would to enjoy it wherever you are: movie theaters, grocery stores, and graduation parties. Yes, this band has that much appeal.

~Bill Clark