Parade of Lights
The Take Off and Landing of Everything
311 should never enter the studio formally. There should be no preconceived process of writing songs, going in with a big name producer and then recording in an attempt to make singles or songs that have potential to be hit singles. 311 is a live band, that’s always been their strength and a big example of that comes on “Universal Pulse.” This album loses big points for only being eight songs long, that’s the first thing that you need to know about it. The second thing you need to know; is that out of these 8 songs, five of them are standard 311 songs that aren’t terrible, but they aren’t that special. “Sunset in July” is the typical single track that the band rolls out and I think it’s a classic in terms of 311 singles. The other four tracks that are just normal 311 songs… they’re not bad, they’re not even boring. It’s just we’ve heard these songs… hundreds of times before with 311 performing them. Now… what you do need to check out from Universal Pulse are the three tracks where they said ‘screw the structures and the process… let’s have some fun.’ Those songs are “Rock On”, “Weightless”, and “A Ways to Go” are excellent. All three of those songs have great 311 flows to them, but they also have some incredible guitar work- probably the best I’ve heard on a 311 album that wasn’t live. Those three songs all finish off the album and the songs are so completely random and unpredictable that they’re overly-enjoyable. Those songs are the perfect 311 tracks and that’s how their albums should be from now on and forever. “Universal Pulse” is only eight songs long, half of that is cookie-cutter 311 stuff, it has a decent single, and four great songs. It’s imperfect, but if you like 311, you’ll come away totally fulfilled after listening to it. That’s pretty much what 311 has always been about.