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311 – Voyager

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Jul 16, 2019.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from chorus.fm for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    As a life-long 311 fan, I approached Voyager with more optimism than most. I looked forward to each of their releases every other summer and would typically be one of the first ones to purchase their new music on the street date. Over time, even as my taste in music gravitated towards punk/emo-tinged rock, 311 remained a band I would find myself coming back to as spring came to a close. With multiple summer tours packing amphitheaters across the US, 311 have always benefited from a patient listening base. This album should do little to change their devout fans’ opinions on the direction the band is going. The fact remains that at thirteen albums in their career, they may have played things a little too safe on Voyager.

    Their 13th studio album was recorded with producer John Feldman, and some of his producing tendencies tend to dissuade from my overall satisfaction of the final product. The cranked-up guitars on the opener, “Crossfire” sound like an updated “Eye of the Tiger” type of approach of getting their fans excited for what is to come on the record. Nick Hexum’s vocals sound as fresh as ever on the track, yet something felt a little off in the overall production of the track. Things improve slightly on “Don’t You Worry” with its dramatic build-up to a reggae-infused, spacey song perfect for a long drive under the summer sky. “I will find a way to reach you/Everything that has a beginning, has an end,” Hexum sings on the first chorus, which could be his way of saying to his fanbase that the band will always be there for them, but to a point.

    “Stainless” features some fresh guitar work from Tim Mahoney, and it turned out to be one of my favorite songs on the LP. It’s a moment where 311 truly click, and they trust in their band chemistry to deliver a trademark song in their discography. The signature, mid-tempo bubbly guitars courtesy of Mahoney make their debut on the song “Space and Time,” and finds the band gaining more confidence as the album unfolds. When 311 are able to trust in what made them so successful to this point in their career, the magic of their music comes through much less forced, and often, beautifully.

    “Dream State” is a forgivable miss in the middle of sequencing, filled with crunchy guitars and some other nu-metal-type elements that eventually lead the way to a chorus meant to get their fans spacing out on the starry vibes put forth. Other songs in the middle of the record such as the current single “Good Feeling” find 311 experimenting with a more Latin-flavored type of pop song, with mostly favorable final results. The song comes at a time when the album seemed to be slipping further into a mediocrity trap, and the band saves the listening experience at this point in the LP.

    “What The?!” reminded me of some of the stoner type of tracks that 311 made early on in their career, yet this track feels more like a homage to the past than covering any new ground along the way. SA Martinez does his best to attempt the track from straying too far into the strange realm, yet the entire song feels a tad out of place on this album. “Better Space” is another song that doesn’t warrant too many repeat listens, as it sounds like standard fodder from the Omaha-faithful.

    And then there is “Dodging Raindrops.” A song that features an almost Maroon 5 type of pop song structure, and it ends up sounding more like a Chainsmokers collaboration than anything that I would expect from 311. Hexum sings, “I’ve been dodging raindrops for far too long/These clouds over my head, they won’t move on,” and the entire song put me out of my comfort zone of expectations towards the band I grew up with.

    The final four songs help the final product slightly, with some great P-Nut bass lines in “Rolling Through” and “Born to Live” that remind fans why they continue to support the artist. Where “Charge It Up” presents the final opportunity for the listeners to “nod their head to this,” there is still little new ground covered. By the time I got to the album closer, “Lucid Dreams,” I had found myself ranking this album somewhere right in the middle of their entire discography. In reality, there was nothing that moved the needle in one direction or the other. While 311 are likely to shake this album off as they set off on their summer tour, they may need to bring a few more surprises into their next record to keep their fans clamoring for more tunes.

     
  2. Jackbo487

    Regular

    Feldmann only produced four of the songs, while Scott Ralston did the rest, just a heads up
     
    Maverick and paythetab like this.
  3. paythetab

    Chorus.FM Album Reviewer (Adam Grundy) Supporter

    Thanks, I appreciate the heads up. Also, I had the wrong rating in there somehow...fixed now.
     
    Jackbo487 likes this.
  4. Mrk_Brdshw

    Dusted Groove

    Mixed feelings about this album. I know people always seem to be up in arms when certain bands use too many outside songwriters, but this album is actually a pretty good example of why "too many cooks in the kitchen" can end up leaving you with a pretty mishmashed sound.

    "Crossfire" was actually plagiarized (though seemingly "accidentally") from a song called "Heist" which they later had to address and credit appropriately.



    The song "Stainless" actually features an outside writer who apparently wrote and recorded much of the ambient softer section including the guitars (which I'm assuming is what the review credited as being Tim). The four tracks by Feldmann all have a handful of outside songwriters which is why they feel so different from the rest of the album. Then, to top it off, "Dodging Raindrops" has a chorus that sounds nearly identical instrumentally to "Silence" by Marshmello and Khalid, so the two artists were later credited retroactively as well.



    So yeah, I like the album, but it's just all over the place. 1/3 feels like a strange attempt at being modern but comes across a little mediocre (the Feldmann tracks), 1/3 feels like an awesome throwback album (the songs written by Sexton and Ralston), and then the last 1/3 feels like new territory but has a couple of examples of music being completely written by outside sources. I've listened to this thing a thousand times and have gotten tons of enjoyment out of it, but I still don't know how I feel about it to be honest.
     
    paythetab likes this.
  5. AMC

    Regular

    I like about 1/2 the album after 4 times through.... IMO the last album was much better.

    But still a fun summer listen
     
    paythetab likes this.
  6. Maverick

    Regular

    I’m pretty happy with this album. I was pleasantly surprised by MOSAIC as it had been awhile since I was really into a 311 album. But while Mosaic had a lot of highs it also had many lows considering the track count.

    But this album has more highs then lows for me. The only songs I don’t like are the Josh Feldman tracks (Typical) even though Born To Live is not half bad.

    Favorite tracks at the moment: Don’t You Worry, Stainless, What The?!, and Better Space
     
  7. Fox83

    Trusted

    In terms of their recent albums, Stereolithic is still a great album that the last two haven't quite matched IMO. Mosaic and Voyager could be cut up and combined to make an equally, if not better, album. I really enjoyed all three for the most part though.
     
    chewbacca110 likes this.
  8. Mrk_Brdshw

    Dusted Groove

    I think I agree for the most part. They kind of exist together in a spectrum.

    Stereolithic
    is by far the most consistent of the three while MOSAIC probably has highest highs and lowest lows.

    Voyager
    lands somewhere in between: more consistent than MOSAIC but less standout tracks, more standout tracks than Stereolithic but less consistency.
     
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  9. chewbacca110

    Trusted

    The songs I like on this album, I REALLY like (Born To Live, Stainless, Don’t You Worry, Crossfire) the rest is less than middling for me.
     
    paythetab likes this.
  10. paythetab

    Chorus.FM Album Reviewer (Adam Grundy) Supporter

    That's how I felt too. There are some great "moments" all over these tracks, but it just didn't all click together as I continued to listen to it. It's a shame, because I thought Mosaic had some good momentum carrying forward into this record.
     
  11. Maverick

    Regular

    I’ve spent some time with this album and it’s really landing for me as one of their best. Besides 3 pretty bad Feldman songs (Born to live being the exception) every song on here is really damn good. I’m already finding Stainless, Don’t You Worry, Space And Time, and What The?! to be some of the best songs they’ve ever written.