Wednesday, January 27, 2010

28. Hard Candy – Counting Crows (2002)

I was embarrassed the first time I heard ‘American Girls’ on the radio. Stuck in a truck with the same co-worker all summer long, we’d already run circles over the usual, what-music-do-you-like icebreakers. At the time Counting Crows had already been terribly misunderstood for about four years, by my count; labeled as radio-rock sell-outs next to the too-cool hipness of a burgeoning underground scene led by the Strokes and White Stripes. So naturally I’d finessed my case with this co-worker around what I believed to be their high-watermark, This Desert Life – why it found the band at their most restrained yet powerful, how it stretched out like an old Eagles record if Don Henley had an honest-to-god self-destructive bone in his body.

Needless to say, the whole case crumbled with the earnest pop flavours of Hard Candy, which covered sugary arrangements with Adam Duritz’s Motown-soul inspired delivery. Counting Crows, yet again, had reinvented themselves… and in the following weeks, then months, I began hearing the same classic songwriting, idiosyncratic lyrics and one-of-a-kind musicianship that only this band can master, disguise, and tightrope to string along one of America’s tightest fan-bases. Hard Candy became my album of 2002.

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