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POP MUSIC | Record Rack : ** EVERCLEAR "Songs From
an American Movie, Vol. II: Good Time for a Bad Attitude,"
Capitol

November 19, 2000|STEVE HOCHMAN

"Sometimes I feel like everything is fine / Sometimes I feel like I'm out of control," sings Art Alexakis on "Slide," one of the post-punk rockers on this album, a return to the trio's usual sound after the more varied textures of July's Vol. I predecessor, "Learning How to Smile." That's the essence of Alexakis' art--characters who slip in and out of control, often at the mercy of betrayals, be they by parents or girlfriends.

Arguably the aggressive guitar rock is better suited to the jagged self-esteem swings. Yet somehow the musical explorations on the last album added new spins and fleshed out the empathetic lyrics, and this return to earlier form seems too familiar.

But the biggest problem with this album is subject matter. In "Rock Star," where "a working-class chump" dreams of being an idol and making "those girls on 'The Real World' fantasize about me," he's retreading ideas as old as celebrity itself.

Compounding that is the following song, the self-referential "Short Blonde Hair," in which Alexakis answers "Rock Star" with a meditation on how being a rock star is not always so great. Maybe doing two albums so close together left him thin on ideas--something entirely within his control.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are due in stores Tuesday unless otherwise noted.

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