Updated February 11, 2017 | Infoplease Staff

Songs from an American Movie Vol. One: Learning How to Smile

  • Capitol

Going against every trend in the summer of 2000, Everclear has recorded this smart, sophisticated, and magnificently produced paean to love gone wrong and the lives left behind.

Rooted in frontman Art Alexakis' divorce last year, Everclear's fourth album is filled with lyrically intriguing tales and big pop melodies, guitar power blasts, and some of Alexakis' most impassioned singing. Of particular note is the unforgettable lead single "Wonderful," which brilliantly captures a child's anguished view of divorce. Against a surging background, Alexakis roars "I don't want to hear you say/You both have grown in different ways/I don't want to meet your friend/And I don't want to start over again/I just want my life to be/The same/Just like it used to be."

Together with bassist Craig Montoya and drummer Greg Eklund, Alexakis has crafted a richly cinematic disc that includes everything from a nostalgic look back at the golden days of AM radio to tracks reflecting on the heart-pounding beginnings of a relationship ("Learning How to Smile") straight through to the tumultuous ending, which is captured in the Cheap Trick-like shot of tension "Now That It's Over."

Alexakis produced the disc, which includes several subtle bits or orchestration, woven lightly into the background. The strings, arranged by Frank Sinatra pal Mort Lindsey, take on a far more prominent role in Alexakis' achingly beautiful, album-closing love song to his daughter, "Annabella's Song."

Kevin O'Hare

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