Blue October

Approaching Normal

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Despite its conventional title, Approaching Normal is Blue October's most puzzling release to date. Frontman Justin Furstenfeld jumps overboard on the bulk of these tracks, from the snarling melodrama of "Weight of the World" (where he sounds like Adam Pascal, the hyperbolic rocker from +Rent) to the bizarre, Smash Mouth-styled bounce of "Jump Rope." He has an unchecked affinity for drama, for the sort of first-pumping grandeur that very few bands can execute, and his angsty self-loathing turns up some priceless nuggets of post-grunge poetry. "I gained 40 pounds because of you!" Furstenfeld howls during "Say It," before announcing his intention to "cover you in ants, bees, and honey, then take your picture for the cover of our album" during the follow-up tune. He even adopts a British accent for "Kangaroo Cry." Furstenfeld's vocal resemblance to Jack Black is more apparent on these tracks than ever before, and Blue October remain aware of their own absurdities. ~ Andrew Leahey, Rovi

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