With the release of their first set of fresh material in four years, it would not be unreasonable to hope that Hootie & the Blowfish would burst onto the scene with a good amount of pent-up creati

With the release of their first set of fresh material in four years, it would not be unreasonable to hope that Hootie & the Blowfish would burst onto the scene with a good amount of pent-up creativity. This, after all, is the band that churned out 16-times platinum 1994 set Cracked Rear View, which ties with Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill as the top-selling debut record of all time. And Hootie's eponymous new album rolls along competently enough, replete with the band's signature drowsy blues/rock sound. However, few tracks make a lasting impression, which does little to explain why the group decided to stage a major comeback. Most tracks feel uninspired, even as they focus around simple American heartland themes. "Innocence," earnestly sung by Hootie frontman Darius Rucker, is one of the few standouts, carrying some of the emotional weight that so attracted fans to Cracked Rear View.—SA

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