The Phantom Tollbooth

Artist:  Third Day
Label:  Essential Records
Time:  10 Tracks

For their third album, Third Day abandons the trendy alternative sound of  Conspiracy #5 and moves further in the direction of the Southern-fried rock at which their debut album hinted.  This in itself is a good decision--the music is more mature than ever, and while not incredibly original (the album has Black Crowes written all over it), it's at least played well.  Problem is, the lyrics haven't matured as fast as the music.

The song titles themselves read like bumper stickers--"I've Always Loved You," "Your Love, Oh Lord," "Took My Place,"--and the lyrics aren't much better.  For example, the song "Believe" is a great song, musically.  It sounds almost like an outtake from Slow Dark Train by Vigilantes of Love, with its buzzy guitars and heavily Southern vocals.  But the lyrics are
predictable and insipid:

    Never mind what you think that you had seen
    It all can change in just a moment
    Here before you is all the proof you need
    Why can't you even just believe it?

    Always looking for a sign
    Miracles won't change your mind
    Tell me how much evidence you need
    Turning truth into a lie
    Hardened heart and blinded eyes
    All you need to do is just believe

The song with the best lyrics, ironically, is nothing but a paraphrase of Psalm 36.  The song ("Your Love, Oh Lord") is unfortunately ruined by the drum machine percussion and obnoxious keyboards contained in the track.

Third Day really frustrates me, because they have so much potential, yet only reach it once or twice per album.  Here's hoping their fourth album taps into that potential.

Michial Farmer (8/10/99)