Thorns The Thorns

There’s no denying that Matthew Sweet has been responsible for some incredible music over the years. Perhaps Pete Droge and Shawn Mullins might not have made an equally impressive contribution, but when all three get together, you might expect something very special. The Thorns is a "super-group” that their record label is calling a Crosby, Stills & Nash for this century. There’s absolutely no doubt that the vocal harmonies on every song are just wonderful, and reminiscent of the Byrds at the top of their game. Yet there’s something about the album that is very disappointing. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the songwriting should be exceptional when three people like this are collaborating, instead of merely being good. And while there are several wonderful songs, there are a handful that come across as being filler. Even the cover of the Jayhawks’ "Blue” is a lesser copy of the original. The best songs are the slower ones where the harmonies are allowed to soar instead of having to compete with the music, but those are the ones which move dangerously close to easy listening territory (in a similar vein to the last Velvet Crush album). At the end of the day, the Thorns’ debut album is a pleasant enough listen, but it just should have been so much more. (Columbia)