Canadian alternative rock group Finger Eleven is most popular for their 2007 chart topping single “Paralyzer“. The band has been around since 1989, however, and will be releasing their sixth album on July 31st. Titled Five Crooked Lines, the record has already spawned its lead single: Wolves and Doors. The single has their familiar funk that you’d expect from them. The band will be kicking off tomorrow’s sold out, second annual Great Summer Smokeout presented by 99.7 The Blitz at the LC Pavilion in Columbus. Joining them at tomorrow’s festivities will be Pop Evil, Theory of a Deadman, and headliners Three Days Grace. To commemorate the occasion, let’s dig into the new Finger Eleven record.
Five Crooked Lines
1. Gods of Speed The album kicks off with a bang. Literally. It sounds completely authentic to Finger Eleven….on steroids. If a modern rock album should start with a punch to the gut; they knock it out of the park with this one. Imagine their typical funky sound at Motorhead speed.
2. Criminal The first thing that sticks out on the album’s second track is its catchy guitar hook. It’s got a warm, fuzzy tone. Equally catchy is the chorus, before the song ultimately closes out with a Zeppelin-ish bang. Seriously, the ending is reminiscent to the “Whole Lotta Love” bridge piece. Two songs in, this record has my attention.
3. Save Your Breath I might be on to something. I’m hearing a lot of influences so far into this album. I could totally hear this song on modern rock radio. It is just heavy enough but stays true to their alternative roots. Scott Anderson gets to really show off his pipes on this one as well. You don’t always get that with them. This shows the whole band on fire. It’s a short song but it makes its point: Ass kicker.
4. Wolves and Doors This is the first single from the record. It’s probably the most familiar sounding song thus far. This song is Finger Eleven through and through. It’s very Paralyzer-esque. It’s got their usual funk and a catchy chorus. I’d say the guitar work is more impressive though than on “Paralyzer“. The solo jams.
5. Come On, Oblivion So far, this song is giving Save Your Breath a run for its money as being the albums crowning moment. It’s got a very 70’s vibe and a spooky intro that continues through out the verses. The song breaks open, though, on the chorus parts. Again, the band is on fire, but you get to really appreciate Anderson’s vocal capabilities as well. It’s a haunting song. The kind of ebb and flow that winds throughout multiple pieces but you don’t get lost in it. I love it. It’s trippy. It’s very early Floyd-ish, but at the same time it isn’t.
6. Not Going To Be Afraid Just like that, the sound transitions to a Killers meets Blue October kind of vibe. It’s got an uplifting message that really resonates. At first, I wasn’t sure about this track. However, as it closes out, I noticed that I was singing along!
7. Five Crooked Lines I like that they’ve used a lot of distortion so far in this record. A lot of the guitar has had that fuzzy, distortion; similar to the guitar sound you hear in Neil Young’s Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black). Now, I’m not suggesting in any way that they sound like Neil Young, but you can hear that extremely distorted and fuzzy guitar sound. It fits them well.
8. Blackout Song The fuzzy sounds continue in this punchy, thumping track. It’s complete with another catchy chorus and a sing along guitar hook. This song could’ve/should’ve been the lead single, maybe. I assume the appearance of the f-word is the only reason that it wasn’t; because this song is just too catchy to not be on the radio.
9. Absolute Truth This song delves into the world of psychedelic rock, clearly influenced by the late 60’s and early 70’s bands like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. With that being said, though, it’s still very relevant. It sounds aged but modern. Does that make any sense? Probably not, but they capture those timeless sounds and give them new life. Classic undertones with and edgy and modern hook. Yeah.
10. Lost For Words If there were ever any doubt as to whether this band was influenced by the great Pink Floyd, that doubt is long gone. You hear sprinkles of it throughout the record. Hell, the only time I’ve seen Finger Eleven live was at Rock on the Range, and they turned Paralyzer into an Another Brick in The Wall medley. Again, though, they add their own sound on top of the layers of Floydian influence. Like I usually do, I’m really digging the deeper cuts on this album.
11. Sensory Eraser This song has a more familiar sound for Finger Eleven. You’ve got a lot going on in this song but like usual, it’s held together by a tight rhythm section. This is the kind of track that your head feels that obligatory impulse to bob. I’m serious. I tried to keep my head still and I couldn’t. I imagine this song would go over very well in a live setting.
12. A New Forever Wow. The album closes out with another Pink Floyd influenced sound. The David Gilmour sound is clear as day. It works so well for them on this record though. You’ve got guitars over top of guitars that are held together by solid drums. This is the only one on the album that I can say is a true nod to Pink Floyd. Anderson’s vocals are more subdued in a The Division Bell fashion. The album closes out in the complete opposite way that it opens. The only thing I’d say is that I wish this song could have just gone on and on and on. When it ends, you almost feel that it’s premature, because you get sucked into it’s world and then it’s over.
I didn’t know what to expect when I took on the task of reviewing this record, but I’m glad I did. This might be the band’s best and most complete work. There are nods to their influences all over the album if you listen for them, but at the same time it is completely and genuinely a Finger Eleven album. You get to hear them heavier than usual at times. You hear their trademark funk throughout the record but you also get to hear them dabble with psychedelic sounds as well. This is a complete album, a group effort, and sees the band return in top notch form.