After the disappointment that could not be avoided in their second release, Fairweather Johnson, Hootie and the Blwofish re-emerged in 1998 with their third release, entitled Musical Chairs. The buzz around this album was that it was much more like the debut album Cracked Rear View than FJ could ever have been. Unfortunately, I can't say the album lived up to expectations, although that is not a good nor a bad thing.
The first single (and lead track) I Will Wait, sees the band doing what they do best, writing a song that has a definite hook. This is just good pop/rock music. Lyrically, the song is sweet and sentimental, even if a little generic.
In my review of FJ, I said Hootie should stick to writing songs such as I Will Wait. The musical "growth" of that album didn't thrill me, mostly due to my own preconceived (and probably unfair) notion that Hootie wasn't a "mature" band. I will say that track four on this record, Only Lonely, changed my mind. This song is gentle, beautiful, and gorgeous, all in one. Rucker's voice, always a strong point, is wonderful on this song, sounding rich and smooth.
However, this album does have it's moments of pure rock ecstacy as well. Wishing sounds like a Tom Petty song, and it rocks hard. Bluesy Revolution has a great melody and an even better chorus.
My main problem though, is how boring this album becomes after that song. It's all acoustic, all of the songs drone, or bore you to death with the lack of real or emotional energy.
If and when Hootie ever makes as strong an album as Cracked Rear View, or if they combined the best of FJ and Musical Chairs, then I might be interested again. But for me to wait 3 years for an album whose second half just sounds so empty, *ugh*, I think I'll pass.