THE GRADE B+
BOTTOM LINE Keeping their unique rap-rock-reggae vibe alive while keeping things fresh.
The key to 311’s success has always been its distinctive bedrock mix of rap, rock and reggae that evolves ever-so-slightly on each album to reflect changes in the outside world.
On the band’s 12th album, “Mosaic” (BMG), singer-guitarist Nick Hexum looks to battle the stresses of technology and modern life creeping in, while the band rocks out. The first single, “Too Much to Think,” has anxious verses, but the lilting reggae chorus smooths it all out, as Hexum sings, “I wanna get high, but you’re taking me down, down, down.” The catchy, upbeat “Til the City’s on Fire” could cross over to the pop chart as it documents working for the weekend.
Of course, things aren’t all smooth sailing. Singer-rapper S.A. Martinez and guitarist Tim Mahoney lead the roaring, Rage Against the Machine-steeped anthem “Perfect Mistake” to work out the excess energy a different way. But the reggae-rock combination is soothing, especially on “Extension” and “Island Sun.”
After all, the 311 vibe has led to nine Top 10 albums in a row and the mix of styles on “Mosaic” seems set to extend that streak to 10.