It’s easy to want to hate The Wallflowers. Lead singer Jakob Dylan’s love-hate relationship with the fact he’ll forever be known as Bob Dylan’s son is a bit tiresome, as is the media’s obsession with turning him into a cover boy. Both these things are constantly overshadowing The Wallflowers’ music, and are enough to make jaded music fans run the other way. They appear to be all style and little substance with their straightforward rock. It would seem there’s nothing about The Wallflowers to like. If there was, people would not have to focus on the other things about them.
But for some reason beyond all explanation, The Wallflowers’ Breach is nothing but likeable, although in a very obvious sort of way. Their music doesn’t go much deeper than the surface, true, but it’s enjoyable while it’s happening. Every element sounds as it’s expected to, from Dylan’s gravelly voice to the chord progressions, to even the arrangement of songs. It’s far from anything revolutionary, but their use of rock standards creates an entertaining group of songs. And in that way, Breach is quite nearly perfect except for the fact it doesn’t say much.
Dylan writes his lyrics with the right amount of introspection without ever trying to sound too deep. They’re memorable, but there’s not too much meaning behind them. Instead, they merely state what’s apparent. “Nothing is as hard as getting free from places I’ve already been” he sings on “I’ve Been Delivered”. Still, his lyrics serve The Wallflower’s music adequately, neither dominating nor receding. They’re just there.
Most of Breach is just there, actually, slowing down and speeding up at appropriate moments. The songs don’t do so manipulatively, at least, because The Wallflowers don’t seem to be aware of the fact they’re not doing anything new. They’re an honesty to these songs, so as generic as they may be, they are genuine.
While Breach is surprisingly likeable, that doesn’t mean it’s something you’ll necessarily feel good about liking, either. Still, you can feel good about the fact you don’t hate The Wallflowers, and maybe that’s all they really want you do to.
// Notes from the Road
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