Most Toad the Wet Sprocket songs sound the same. So, if you're tired of rotating Fear and Dulcinea on your stereo, pop in Coil and you won't notice much difference.
Most of the songs echo with the same haunting Toad-guitar behind a slight throbbing we-could-be-U2 beat.
This fifth album isn't like Fear, on which the band sang about social injustice, about how a man could take a woman and hold her down just because he was bigger. This album is more about the fear of being alone. The lyrics are wimpier. No one's walking on the ocean. No one's stepping on any stones.
The first song, Whatever I Fear, could be depressing if it weren't for the keep-on-trucking rhythm. Guitarist/vocalist Glen Phillips sings: "There's almost nothing left/you eat my kind for breakfast/what did I expect to come here and find anyone?/Find open arms to greet me/and friends to feed me/I sicken myself so much."
He's very lonely. His life is sad. And it just keeps getting worse, says the chorus: "Whatever I fear the most is whatever I see before me/whenever I let my guard down, whatever I was ignoring."
It's about how most things are pointless, about how life is miserable and keeps getting worse - yet it has a nice toady rhythm.
The album is about people who seem very depressed, angst-ridden - weirdo alternative people who just cannot be happy. As in Little Buddha, "Life is suffering ... cold and shuddering ... cruel and pummeling."
These are the people who sit around in coffeehouses looking forlornly at a half-played game of chess, taking another drag off a half-smoked cigarette before sighing and reciting another depressing, lonely poem about their depressing lonely lives.
Toad counters these poems with a lively Prozac pace. Still, the band's not whistling a happy tune.
It's how a lot of people feel. There's a nice urgency to the words, driving the song forward.
The best song, Little Man Big Man, could be on Sesame Street. It's a white beach ball bobbing over the words.
The actual lyrics to this song won't bring home a Pulitzer. "Little man big man who came first/what is the measure of our worth?" It's sort of the chicken and the egg of Donald Trump and the average plumber.
I don't dig the lyrics, but I really like the song. I play it over and over for just about anyone who comes in my house.
That's basically how I feel about the rest of the album. I don't much like the lyrics, but I dig the catchy tunes. It grows on me more each day.
To hear part of the song Little Man Big Man, call INFOLINE at 706- 442-4444 and press 8101.