“Invisible Stars,” Everclear (Entertainment One)
Almost 20 years ago, Everclear frontman Art Alexakis came across as a weary, self-pitying loser. On his band’s new “Invisible Stars,” he comes across as an even more weary, self-pitying loser.
It suits him.
In the 1990s, the Portland, Ore., alt-rock group was a refreshing counterpoint to grunge, taking the edge off its angst with self-deprecating humor as Alexakis poured on the charm — and great melodies. Everclear raged, but the band also moved with poignancy on hits such as “Father of Mine,” “Santa Monica,” “I Will Buy You a New Life” and “Everything to Everyone.”
The climate for rock bands chilled over time, and Everclear became a revolving door for members — except for mainstay Alexakis.
Los-Angeles-native Alexakis recently moved back to California after 20 years in Oregon, and that transition is evident on “Invisible Stars,” indirectly in the California pop-punk blast of “Falling in a Good Way” and directly on the wistful “Santa Ana Wind” that seems to condemn the Golden State but concludes, “This is where I’m supposed to be.”
The endearingly frayed, traditional Everclear sound surfaces in such sauntering, downbeat tracks as “Be Careful What You Ask For” and the black-history lesson “Jackie Robinson,” and Alexakis taps into an especially raw vein on the desperate “Wishing.” Familiar themes include escapism (“Volcano”) and bad romance (“I Am Better Without You,” where the vocalist sings, “We are a bad movie that never ends”).
The hooks aren’t quite as sharp as they once were, and the mixes are occasionally messy and disorienting (“The Golden Rule” falls apart, “Rocket for the Girl” sounds half-hearted).
But if any band can get away with sounding a little sloppy, it’s Everclear.
Rating (five possible): 3-1/2