Collective Soul is one of those bands that seem like they’ve been around forever. In this case, “forever” is actually since 1992. Nevertheless, since then the Georgia-based quintet have been cranking out albums. Afterwords, the band’s first studio album since 2004, is par for the course.
From the onset of the opener, “New Vibration,” it becomes apparent that Collective Soul is fully committed to the continuation of earlier themes. Their songs are pop-rock with a subtle grunge element, but also contain lyrics rife with introspection and vague spirituality. A listener almost half-expects to hear frontman Ed Roland and company to bust out an organ and embrace their gospel influences, but that moment never comes. The result is an album full of songs that—while completely in-line with previous light, listenable Collective Soul fare—don’t sound any different from their previous efforts. This may be welcomed by long-time fans, but it can frustrate a casual listener.
Anchored by a trio of trademark Collective Soul tracks—“What I Can Give You,” “Bearing Witness” and the single “Hollywood”—Afterwords is a fine entry in the band’s discography and an album full of fun, catchy songs. Much like every other Collective Soul album, it’s nowhere near bad enough to be horrendous but nowhere near good enough to be stellar.