Blue October Any Man in America CD Album Review
By: A. Estes
Blue October mastermind Justin Furstenfeld has made a career out of wearing his heart on his sleeve, a tradition that is carried over onto the band’s sixth studio offering. A loose concept album about the singer’s divorce and subsequent custody battle over his daughter, "Any Man in America" is naturally steeped in gut-wrenching emotion and bitter words, while production from Tim Palmer (The Cure, U2) ensures it’s the most diverse and consequently the most polarizing effort from the band to date.
True to its theme, "Any Man in America" is as complicated a listen as its subject material must have been for the perpetually troubled frontman to experience. The band already made its bank on its platinum 2006 effort, "Foiled," and much like its follow-up, 2009’s "Approaching Normal," "Any Man in America" continues to push the band past the typical radio-rock sound cluttering up radio stations nationwide in favor for a more wide-open and multi-faceted soundscape. The results are a bit mixed here, as the band sounds mired in creative purgatory, never settling on one sound or solid idea. Many songs, such as the title track, switch back and forth so many times in their short running time that they fall to gel into a cohesive composition. For the first time in their career, Blue October sound unsure of what kind of band they are.
Mixed experiments aside, the album would be a mess without its strong driving narrative. Truth be told, it is Furstenfeld’s ever-earnest delivery that carries the album and keeps it from being a complete disaster. Although the album can be a bit too broad and unfocused to digest, it’s the compelling story told that makes "Any Man in America" a worthy listen. Standout numbers such as "The Feel Again (Stay)" and "The Follow Through" are classic Blue October, drenched in moody instrumentation and compelling wordplay. Make no mistake, the band you love still exists on "Any Man in America," but you will have to sift through a bit of rough to find the diamonds. *** out of 5 stars.