Two years ago, the lives of this hippy-dippy alternative band and a 10-year-old girl named Heather DeLoach were inextricably linked: DeLoach, a Lake Forest, Calif., fifth grader, was cast as the bespectacled Bee Girl in Blind Melon's video of their spacey hit song "No Rain." Dressed in a sequined bee suit, she frolicked through a bucolic field. From that moment on, Blind Melon became known to MTV viewers as the Bee Girl Band.
Without an instantly recognizable vid clip from their sophomore effort, the band will have to rely on more aural recognition. That may be hard with this wildly veering record. Still, the release is anything but safe, and it may silence those who criticized Blind Melon for being grunge-lite and flighty. Soup is a crock pot filled with disparate ingredients, from early LedZep-ish riffs to Dead-inspired fills. "2x4" is a prime example, with its sharp shifts in tempo and style. The formless "Dumptruck," however, blasts off on a razor-edged guitar groove only to drift into some cosmic percussive noodling. And lead singer Shannon Hoon and Co. seem to randomly drop in the under-2-minute jug-band ditty "Skinned," which abruptly breaks up the pace of the first half of the disc. If Blind Melon's eclectic approach sounds a bit maddening, it can be. But at least they've accomplished an important task: establishing a musical life beyond the Bee Girl. (Capitol)