ESSAY: "Pick Just One: The Wallflowers' (Breach)'" [PREVIEW]

The Wallflowers’ breakout album, their sophomore effort Bringing Down the Horse (1996), recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Bringing Down the Horse, which was produced by T. Bone Burnett, brought Jakob Dylan into the limelight as more than just Bob Dylan’s son, with the singles “6th Avenue Heartache”, “Three Marlenas”, and “One Headlight”, which won two Grammy awards for the band, becoming rock-radio staples. The traditional narrative of the Wallflowers following the success of Bringing Down the Horse is that in the four years it took the band to release their follow-up, (Breach), the spotlight seemed to have moved on. While Bringing Down the Horse went platinum, (Breach) only went gold. 

When the band’s follow-up record, Red Letter Days, came out in 2002, they had forgone the rich lyricism and intricate sound that had been developing on Bringing Down the Horse, and reached its zenith in (Breach), instead choosing to produce a straight-ahead rock album that while not bad in any way, was repetitive. Rebel, Sweetheart (2005) was a step back in the right direction, but the incisive, specific, and intensely personal qualities of Dylan’s lyrics had been dulled through the excessive flourishes of Brendan O’Brien’s production techniques, creating a disappointing sense of sameness in many of the songs. Then came the hiatus. It was seven years until the next Wallflowers album, Glad All Over (2012) during which time Dylan released two solo albums (Seeing Things (2008) and Women and Country (2010)). While Glad All Over was largely a return to form for the band, it hasn’t displaced Bringing Down the Horse and (Breach) as the band’s two strongest, let alone (Breach)’s lofty place, in my estimation...

I've begun freelancing for PopMatters, and you can read my first piece for them in its entirety here!