Mega Collider (label)
30 October 2015 (released)
14 September 2015
Eighteen years after their impressive self titled debut, the fact that this is only Third Eyed Blind's fifth studio album is telling. Touring and band changes (a controversial swapping of guitarists in 2000 to name just one) have taken their toll over the years. Dopamine comes six years after their last release and two years after frontman Stephan Jenkins declared that this would be their last album. If it is to be their farewell, it is an impressive one. As one of the more intellectual pop-rock bands of the mid-1990s, Dopamine underlines that erudite image, both with the title - taken from the name of a chemical that helps the brain to function - and some of the musical craft.
Here the band's neurotransmitter seems in fine working order, with some radio friendly pop - such as All The Souls and All These Things, both of which keep things simple and effective. Balancing that are the harder to access Blade and acoustic Exiles. The latter references David Bowie (as does the catchy and perky Rites Of Passage), but there isn't any surprising musical adventure here. Although on Back To Zero, there is perhaps a nod towards the darker material of Bowie's Berlin period. It has a cracking bass rhythm and is one of the band's finest songs.
Lyrically the album is said to take a look at what are described as the tumultuous years since their last release - and this is evident on the piano led exploration of a band break-up Get Me Out Of Here, which describes the "greatest rock star ever" and his seeming implosion ("what started out in earnest now seems more like a jest, and I was your conquering hero, is now an uninvited guest. And the floor seats are sensing fear"). In tone it is reminiscent of Pink Floyd's One of My Turns, just with a pop twist.
This winter will see Third Eye Blind return to Europe after a series of dates with another band returning from an hiatus, Dashboard Confessional. The tour includes dates in Manchester and London and given Jenkins' warning about the band's future, fans will be keen to say goodbye. Dopamine gives them plenty of material to fill those shows with newer songs - and enough evidence to show there's still life in the band yet. Jenkins may have to have a rethink.