After losing their key guitarist, Kevin Cadogan, in a messy dispute, Third Eye Blind was faced with the daunting task of having to prove they could cut it without him on their third release, Out of the Vein. Songs like “Crystal Baller” contain riffs similar to some of 3EB’s biggest hits, but with Cadogen gone, there’s an unmistakable shortage of hooks. There’s no “Jumper” or “Semi-Charmed Life” here, yet the album is, if nothing else, consistently engaging. Singer Stephen Jenkins remains charismatic and vulnerable, his recent break with rumored love-link Charlize Theron providing much fodder for song: he stalks her (or some other object of desire) on the album’s first single, “Blinded” (the song could very well have been inspired by Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” video); longs for (again, stalks) her on “Palm Reader” (“I kept your sweater till the scent was gone”); and even sees her face as his life flashes before him on “My Hit and Run.” As always, Jenkins’s lyrics are also sexed-up: “I want to stay right here and go down on you for an hour,” he sings as he watches her in the shower. The disc’s opening track, the kick-drum-driven “Faster,” finds Jenkins horny and poetic: “She mouths the words ‘please’ to the poster on the ceiling.” Out of the Vein does little to live up to 3EB’s Eastern philosophical moniker (or maybe it does, as Jenkins’s third eye remains blind), but it still delivers on the poppy promises of their hit-laden debut.
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