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Album Review

Better Than Ezra was always a staunchly classicist band, raised on the college rock of the '80s and turning out a series of earnest records that paid homage to that sound but were released in the post-grunge era. They had more success than most post-grungers since they were classicists dressed up in heavy sincerity, but they had hooks, best illustrated on the breakthrough "Good" and the yearning "Desperately Wanting." But as the '90s drew to a close, most guitar bands of the mid-'90s were hit hard by shifting tastes and changing fashions, leaving the group out in the cold along with many of their peers. BTE regrouped on a new label, Beyond, turning out Closer in 2001. In one sense, time treated the group well, since they simply became better at their craft. Kevin Griffin's songwriting is easier, rarely suffering from the strained sincerity that dragged down many of their albums. This time around, his melodic sense is sharper — not just on rockers, but on ballads — and his songs are given excellent treatment by a muscular band, presented in a supple production by Brad Wood. If there is a problem with the record, it's because Closer is occasionally constrained by its time, particularly on the neo-hip-hop of two tracks featuring DJ Swamp (though "Rolling," featuring Toddy, is a highlight). These aren't necessarily bad — and the single "Extra Ordinary" is catchy, despite Griffin's rap — but they do give the album an appearance of trying too hard, when this really is the most natural and best record they've ever made.

Customer Reviews

Never gets old

I bought this album when it first came out in 2001. It's still one of my all time favorites. Honestly, I never get tired of listening to it. Get You In and Closer are my favs, Rolling is perfect for cruising around.

great album...

I would say not as strong or catchy as Friction Baby or my personal favorite, Before the Robots... but still a great album.

Their best work

I have been an ardent fan of BTE for many years. I really enjoy their latest release Paper Empire but I believe it has more to do with myself aging and being more accepting of music that is more closer associated with Adult Contemporary Rock which Paper Empire is. But Closer to me is their best overall album with a perfect mix of mid tempo rockers, a few ballads, and couple of tracks that experiment with a turnatble. One of BTE's strengths has been to incorporate different sounds and layers into their music. Extra Ordinary and Recognize are excellent tunes with that aspect. Rolling has horns and piano showcasing their New Orleans roots as they do on most of their albums and Get You In, my personal favorite is a great tune with slide guitar and organ incorporated into it. This is just an excellent album from track 1 to 11 and it flows along very easily. My feeling is if Closer would have been released in 2009 rather than 2001, that it would be a sought after album as this eclectic mix of music is more accepted today than it was then. Kudos to ITunes for being able to get this onto BTE's album catalog listing as Beyond Records went bankrupt shortly after releasing Closer. Enjoy it because it sounds as good now as it did then.

Biography

Formed: 1988 in New Orleans, LA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Along with such similarly styled outfits as the Goo Goo Dolls, the New Orleans-based trio Better Than Ezra helped open the floodgates for countless alt-pop acts of the late '90s (including Semisonic, Matchbox Twenty, and Third Eye Blind) by merging college rock influences with mainstream aspirations. Originally formed in 1988 as a roots rock outfit with slight elements of country and punk, the group's first incarnation consisted of four college students from Louisiana State University: Kevin Griffin...
Full Bio