Taking a scene directly out of Almost Famous, the cover of the latest Nocturnals creation has Potter as the obvious focal point. The other band members are out of focus, blurry, and pushed to the background.
The Gwen Stefani syndrome has finally taken hold.
I had high hopes for Grace and the crew. Venturing out west to seek fame and fortune, it seems the glitz and glam has brainwashed the group of their real aptitude: playing rock-n-fuckin'-roll.
Lead guitarist Scott Tournet is almost nonexistent throughout the entire record. With never-ending potential, the six-string ace comes off more like a hired studio musician going through the motions (the same goes for rhythm guitarist Benny Yurco and drummer Matt Burr). His craft is greatly suffocated in exchange for a we're-trying-too-hard-for-radio-friendly-hooks approach. If it weren't for their side project, Blues and Lasers, I'd say Tournet, Yurco and Burr were a waste of raw talent.
"Paris (Ooh La La)" (aka "If I Was From Paris" - a recycled bonus track from their last studio effort), though notable when played live, has bubblegum written all over it. Annoying backup vocals, chintzy doubletracking, and a feel reminiscent of Josie and the Pussycats, the tune is now reduced to the next single plastered all over whatever teenybopper drama Disney (who owns Hollywood Records, where the quintet sits alongside labelmates Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers) forces them onto.
Eerily similar to any previous Potter ballad, "Tiny Light" (which includes the only guitar section worth mentioning, though you have to painstakingly dig through the entire melody to hear it) and "Things I Never Needed" exhibit no progress in a band whose stagnation was thought to have left with ex-bassist Bryan Dondero (his replacement, Catherine Popper, is barely noticeable throughout).
The subsequent songs don't fair much better.
There's a frisky Potter squeal here and there, but each number sounds forced, with not one selection holding your attention for another spin. The sound is hollow and, at times, repetitive. It seems the only saving grace is "Medicine"-- a meaty number, but one that could be taken as cheesy when placed in context of the entire album.
The phrase "personal sabotage" comes to mind.
It's a damn shame the band has apparently traded their signature organic blend of soul for the cliché of rock stardom. At one time they hinted at a winning formula -- a secret formula that the woman with incredible pipes traded in for high heels, sequin miniskirts and, frankly, terrible songs.
Honestly, the whole thing tends to make a mockery of any previous endeavors or accolades. But, as they say, having a gift from God is one thing, knowing how to properly use that gift is a whole other ballgame. One can only hope this is just a bump on a long and hopefully bountiful road for the Vermont darlings. And one can also hope that this is the record that gets the bullshit out of their collective system, and that they can come back reinvigorated and ready to actually make music that's worth listening to.

In the words of Jeff Bebe of Stillwater, "And let me say what nobody else wants to say: your looks have become a problem!"