Finger Eleven Life Turns Electric Album Review
By: A. Estes
It’s hard not to think of Finger Eleven without thinking of the band they started as MuchMusic darlings, decked out in baggy jeans and prototypical late `90s/early `00s haircuts, with a unique sound falling somewhere between Our Lady Peace and Korn. But times change, and so to have Finger Eleven, much to the chagrin of their core fanbase. Their fifth album, “Life Turns Electric” finds the band striving to follow up a string of radio-hits that started in 2003 with “One Thing” and continued with 2007’s undeniably catchy and unavoidable “Paralyzer”. What this means is that they are straying even farther away from where they started, heading down an undoubtedly mainstream path, and it doesn’t appear as if they are ever going to look back. Hey, a band’s gotta eat, right?
Sure, Finger Eleven cannibalize themselves a bit on “Life Turns Electric” — most noticeably with “Living in a Dream” which attempts to redress “Paralyzer” in hopes of a quick hit — but as a direct follow-up to “Them Vs. You Vs. Me” you might be surprised by how strong and consistent it actually is. The album was self-produced by the band’s two guitarists, James Black and Rick Jackett, so it should come as no surprise that this is a very guitar-driven record. The album’s two opening numbers, “Any Moment Now” and “Pieces Fit” are bursting with energy and tasty licks from the twosome and get things started on a strong note. “Whatever Doesn’t Kill Me” and “Good Intentions” find the band mired in middle-of-the-road material, yet singer Scott Anderson comes through with a passionate performance to save the day as he always has. The man sounds just as good today as he did yesterday and is, hands down, one of rock’s most underrated and under-heard voices. This album is at the very least a testament to that, as each of the ten tracks seem designed to compliment and show off the bombastic singer.
If there is anything on this record that screams “play me on radio!” more than “Living in a Dream” it would have to be “Stone Soul.” A very breezy and catchy ballad, it is unlike anything the band has ever produced before, and yet, it’s the most musically interesting song (not to mention the shortest as well). Likewise, “Ordinary Life” is pure Top-40/adult contemporary rock material, but somehow they pull it off. Through songs like these, a different version of Finger Eleven emerges. While this Finger Eleven may be a bit tougher to swallow (innuendo?) for most, it’s shocking how well they actually pull it off. Like “Them Vs. You Vs. Me,” it’s miles away from their origins and is likely to turn off some of the band’s more die-hard fans. Taken for what it is, though — a dynamic and well-produced modern rock record — it’s about as good as they come. Are they still the same band you fell in love with? Hardly. In some respects, they’ve gotten better — certainly tighter as musicians — and you at least have to respect how well they have fared thus far. It may not be the “one thing” you’re looking for, but don’t be surprised if you are surprised.