Into Your Heart
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2004, Volume 11, #11
Written by John Metzger
Hothouse Flowers was never quite as good as many made the group out to be, yet it also didn’t deserve the flavor-of-the-month status granted to it by critics and fans alike. Even so, in the music business, much like in life, timing is everything, and when the ensemble released Songs from the Rain — the lesser, but still underrated follow-up to its terrific breakthrough collection Home — grunge had burst out of Seattle, leaving sensitive fare without a place on the airwaves. In the subsequent 11 years, Hothouse Flowers has resurfaced only twice — first with the transitional effort Born (and its concert compatriot Live) and now with the intriguing, but utterly uneven Into Your Heart. The best moments on its new album happen when the band fully embraces its gospel-soul roots, and on tracks like the driving funk of Tell Me, the Al Green-inspired Better Man, and the Hall & Oates-flavored (circa Abandoned Luncheonette) ruminations of Santa Monica, Hothouse Flowers carries this stylistic twist further than it ever has. Also worthwhile are the sunny, ’70s AM pop of Alright, the soothing elegance of Peace Tonight, and the fiery Irish folk of Sí Do Mhamó Í. It is within these passionately performed refrains that the music is able to buttress the collective’s less than stellar lyrics, turning them into something significantly more than passably pedestrian musings on life, love, and redemption. Unfortunately, however, like many outings delivered in the digital age, Into Your Heart is far too lengthy an undertaking, and the filler — such as the lifeless, Graham Nash-facsimile Feel Like Living; the overly processed Hallelujah; and the equally drab Van Morrison-lite jaunt through Magic Bracelets — serves only to water down an otherwise welcome return from a collective that has yet to reach its full potential. ½
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box