From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Collective Soul “Collective Soul” (Loud & Proud/Roadrunner Records)
Georgia-based pop-rockers Collective Soul reintroduce themselves with a sound that is both fresh and familiar on their second self-titled album.
The album, nicknamed “Rabbit” because of its cover art, follows 14 years after the band’s first eponymous record came out on Atlantic Records. The second self-named record marks the band’s return to a label after independently releasing three records on its own El Music Group.
Along with a loyal core following, the band has earned new fans the past few years as its songs have been included in the film “Twilight” and on “American Idol.” With its debut release on Loud & Proud/Roadrunner Records, Collective Soul crafts an album that both longtime and more recent followers will relish. “Rabbit” features the band’s trademark hooky songs, huge, inventive guitar riffs and singer-songwriter Ed Roland’s usually soaring but occasionally biting vocals.
The record opens appropriately with “Welcome All Again,” a driving burst of rock energy. The band switches to a glammier sound on “Fuzzy” before making another sonic shift with the post-grungy commentary of “Dig,” which resembles the hit single “Gel,” from the group’s first self-titled record.
The moody “Understanding” has the quintet playing with pop-punk flourishes and abrupt tempo changes.
“Rabbit” again proves that few pop-rock bands can top Collective Soul’s skill at producing exquisite power ballads, with Roland expressing heartfelt love without the usual clichés on “You,” “Staring Down” and “She Does.”
The album closes with the beautiful simplicity of “Hymn for My Father,” Roland’s fervent piano tribute to Ed Roland Sr., who died in 2004.