CD Review of Red Letter Days by The Wallflowers
Interscope Records
The Wallflowers:
Red Letter Days

Reviewed by Red Rocker


he Wallflowers have managed to do it again. On Red Letter Days, their fourth album in a decade, common rock prodigy Jakob Dylan and associates have one more time painted the safest, most predictable portrait of mid-tempo heartbreak melodies and jingle-jangle pop rock numbers. Reworking 2000's Breach nearly to a tee, the Wallflowers shift effortlessly from flirtatious ballads ("Closer to You" and "Three Ways") to rip-roaring rockers ("Everybody Out of the Water") without ever breaking a sweat. But sometimes, mind you, it's good to sweat a little.

Now, don't get me wrong. The music on Red Letter Days is squeaky clean, masterfully produced, and yet blatantly non-threatening. Rest assured, the wife will love this stuff. "I need a bed that nobody's slept in / I need some air nobody's been breathing," Dylan utters on the opener "When You're on Top," an instantaneous VH-1 fixture. This new record actually plays out like a microcosm of the Wallflowers' career itself. It has lustrous moments ("If You Never Got Sick" is striking!), forgettable pauses (the sleepy "See You When I Get There") and downright boggy halts ("Health and Happiness"). On the later, Dylan repeats ad nauseam, "I wish you health, I wish you happiness, but absolutely nothing else." How profound.

In a way, this latest offering from the Wallflowers, as well as their three previous, is like an old, familiar movie that you've seen countless times. When it's on TNT for the third time this weekend, you don't really need to see all two hours to enjoy it. You could even walk in halfway through and still pick up and enjoy the final hour. I doubt that these guys would ever release a truly bad album. But as long as they continue to avoid greatness by driving right down the middle of the road, Jakob Dylan will never know the longevity or discover the fabled staying power his old man has.

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