* * * CANDLEBOX; "Lucy"; Maverick

The backbone of Candlebox's 1993 debut was a compelling combination of classic song craft and impassioned musicianship. The Seattle quartet's sophomore effort is built on the same burly melodiousness and fiery playing, but with less studio polish.

"Amazing" is a lazy grind that turns in mesmerizing, gravelly circles; guitarist Peter Klett puts a tinge of vintage psychedelia into the lilting, slightly acrid strains of "Crooked Halo" and embellishes "Vulgar" with some downright arty pangs of feedback. "Butterfly" opens in a melancholy hush that quickly escalates into a vibrantly dark tract, with Kevin Martin's vocals seesawing over the chunky chord progression. A couple of tracks--"Simple Lessons" and "Bothered"--defy the group's affinity for demi-ballads and maintain a strident thrashiness from start to finish.

For the most part, though, "Lucy" is made up of familiar, bittersweet tales set to edgy, bittersweet music. It's as worn in and comfortable as an old pair of jeans, but then again Candlebox has always been more concerned with emotional impact than innovation, and even with a scruffier studio finish, the feelings still run high.

New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World