Picks and Pans Review: Hard Candy
The old-fashioned tin on the cover of Counting Crows' fourth studio disc promises that this assortment of Hard Candy features "13 fresh new flavors." Basically, though, the septet sticks to the same dependable mix of jangly roots rockers and brooding ballads that fans have been snacking on since their 1993 debut. With its bouncy, melodic guitar pop and Beach Boyish vocal harmonies, the title tune recalls the Crows' breakthrough hit "Mr. Jones." On the similarly jaunty ditty "American Girls," they get help from another Crow-Sheryl-who chirps in with some sunny background vocals. Not one to get too chipper, lead singer and principal songwriter Adam Duritz has found a kindred tortured soul in Ryan Adams: After Duritz collaborated on Adams's Gold last year, Adams cowrote and sings backup on "Butterfly in Reverse," a lilting confection that, with its wistful lyrics ("Do you wanna go back? / You should have known/ That the butterfly in reverse here is me"), is both sweet and sour.
Bottom Line: Count on the Crows