Uplifter

by: 311

Now entering its third decade, 311 has cemented its status as a muscled touring machine, capable of selling out venues across the country without the assistance of high-charting singles or current albums. Uplifter, the band's ninth studio release (and first album in nearly four years), is streamlined accordingly, wielding a polished mix of tour-worthy anthems and lighter-hoisting ballads that seem destined to fare better in concert than on record. This is standard 311 fare, stuffed with the requisite flourishes of alternative rock, reggae, and frat boy funk that made the band popular some 15 years prior. Bob Rock produces the rock numbers with a beefy hand -- 311 has rarely sounded so heavy before -- while allowing the band to retain its sonic calling cards: the heavy chorus effect on Nick Hexum and S.A. Martinez's harmonies, the watery strum of Tim Mahoney's guitar, and the crispness of Chad Sexton's snare drum. Uplifter may be better suited to a concert set list than a stereo, as some of these songs lose their vitality on record. Even so, the album is strong enough to keep the flames fanned, and returning 311 fans should be pleased. ~ Andrew Leahey

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