The Wallflowers’ fifth album, “Rebel, Sweetheart” (Interscope), out May 24, explores themes of acceptance and hope. Numerous tracks focus on enduring one’s lot in life and, at the same time, are tinged with the belief that acceptance leads to a sense of freedom.
The lyrics penned by vocalist/guitarist Jakob Dylan also reflect the arc of the Wallflowers’ career.
Though they broke into the limelight with the 1997 hit “One Headlight” — which was No. 1 on the Modern Rock chart for five weeks — they have faded from the scene in the years since. However, in keeping with the new album’s theme, that is just fine with Dylan.
“If it doesn’t come to that point again with a singular song, well, that’s more than most people get to do,” Dylan says of “One Headlight.”
Dylan believes the Wallflowers — which include drummer Fred Eltringham, keyboardist Rami Jaffee and bassist Greg Richling — had a “real urgency” to record “Rebel, Sweetheart,” which was produced by Brendan O’Brien. “I could feel certain tones as the record began,” he says. “Very simply, I really wanted to write my truth on this record, whether other people cared or not.”
Sales-wise, the Wallflowers have retained a small but loyal following. After their 1996 sophomore set, “Bringing Down the Horse,” which has sold 4.2 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, “Breach” (2000) sold 471,000 copies and “Red Letter Days” (2003) moved 208,000.
First “Rebel, Sweetheart” single “The Beautiful Side of Somewhere” went to triple-A radio in April, and then to adult contemporary stations the first week of May.
Dylan notes that lyrically the track is about not being “delusional that there’s a magical wonderland somewhere. The song is saying, ‘I’m tired of these problems. I want a new bag.'” It is No. 8 on Billboard Radio Monitor’s Triple-A chart.
As part of the many promotional avenues being pursued, the Wallflowers will perform May 25 at the Lexington Avenue W Hotel in New York and June 8 at San Francisco’s W. After playing radio shows and festivals this summer, the band will launch a national tour in late August/early September.
“Rebel, Sweetheart” will also be available as a DualDisc that will contain new arrangements of Wallflowers songs and an interview with the band hosted by comedian Jon Lovitz
Excerpted from the May 21, 2005, issue of Billboard. The full original text is available to Billboard.com subscribers.
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