It's every once in a great while when a band's sophomore effort contains such more-polished, more emotional, deeper material that make your jaw drop. This is the case for the majority of Australian rockers Beanbag's second release, welladjusted. Half of the album serves up a fresh new feel and approach for the group, while the other half caters more to the fans of the 1999 debut effort, free signal.
When I first tossed welladjusted into my player, I was greeted immediately with the strums of an acoustic guitar. But it wasn't long before "Limit of Shunt" picked up with heavier, more delicate electics. Hunz' vocals are deeper, more emotional. It sounds like a completely different band. In a way, it is. Although the members are the same, the band's goal has shifted with this release. Attempting (and often succeeding) to create different music not as easily comparable to other artists as that on free signal, Beanbag ups the emotional level and directs its lyrics more towards the non-Christian listener. "Our intention for this album is to be very personal," the band states, "with an emphasis on communicating to people who are outside of a relationship with Christ, on the so-called 'fringe.'"
Beanbag reminds fans who they are with "Chubb," a groove-laced intro sets the mood for a showcase for Hunz' rap vocals. Although effective, his raps aren't as intriguing as his more melodic, passionate vocals. The song immediately switches gears to a hyper guitar riff that displaces the groove momentarily before returning to it. "Ill Minded" kicks off with a crunchy guitar riff reminiscent that of a Project 86 tune, before blending Hunz' raps and more melodic vocals throughout the song. "Slipstream" and "These Stains" are melodic, passionate tracks that dig deeper than many previous Beanbag songs. Hunz' melodies are at their best, and the guitar lines often venture into a more thoughtful, almost dream-like glide. "Army of Me" is a Bjork cover which is a simple, yet intriguing track which features an unusual and irresistable drum beat with a metallic clang supported by a thumping bass. Beanbag's version greatly surpasses that of Bjork's approach for a much more intense and appealing result.
The remainder of the album contains more traditional-sounding Beanbag tunes, with a slight twist in some spots. "Dynamie Lifter" is a little more complex as it changes directions several times before fading out to close the album. Welladjusted will be the sleeper hit of the spring and if you didn't care for free signal or if you're an avid fan of the Aussies, this album should no be missed. Emotional, personal, and sometimes delicate, Beanbag may just surprise you.- Review date: 2/11/01, written by John DiBiase
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