by Mike Corrigan

Yeah, I'll admit it, I was enticed into a listen of Land Air Sea (Epitaph) initially by the engaging cover art and secondly by the semi-intriguing backstory of the group known as The Special Goodness (comprised of Weezer drummer Pat Wilson and Rocket from the Crypt alum Atom Willard)

The album cover sports seemingly random snapshots of pickup trucks, motorcycles, vintage advertising art, fields, water, and sky. Patrick Wilson formed the Special Goodness (often existing with a membership of just one) as a late-'90s, sounds-vaguely-like-Weezer side project, with friends and colleagues filling various slots in the amorphous band roster. Hit-and-run touring, DIY releases, and rotating lineups characterized the early years. Then Wilson ran into Willard. By late 2001, they had begun to commit Wilson's long-incubating musical ideas to good ol' two-inch analog tape. (In case anyone is wondering, this album was initially released with a different track order on a different record label in 2003.)

Unfortunately, Land Air Sea doesn't really add up to all that much -- at least not anything that we haven't heard many, many times before. The pedestrian guitar riffs and generally predictable arrangements aren't nearly enough to keep Wilson's largely banal existential observations ("Life Goes By") and romantic musings ("In the Sun," "Inside Your Heart") afloat. His attempts at humor ("Pardon Me") also fall pretty flat.

Some of the album's most thoughtful and effective moments are found within the satisfyingly anthemic power ballad, "Whatever's Going On." In the chorus, Wilson expresses a sentiment all too familiar to members of America's postmodern blank generations -- that of profound disconnection and disenchantment ("I don't belong in this world / No one does, that's the problem / And that's as good as it gets").

But aside from that minor triumph, Land Air Sea is unremarkable - even, at times, downright tedious. While there are plenty of big thick 'n' crunchy guitars and gobs of gooey melody and bouncy hook wedged into its dozen tracks to keep you on the edge of feeling something -- anything -- the positive vibrations wear off almost immediately as the last down-stroked power chord fades from earshot. Weezer completists will no doubt want to pick this up (if they haven't already), out of curiosity if nothing else. For the rest of us, however, it's at best a crapshoot.

Publication date: 04/01/04

  • or