Even though the emotionally charged pop band Blessid Union of Souls
has three successful albums to its credit, as well as several Top 40 hits, listeners still have trouble identifying the group on the radio. The chart toppers "I Believe" (1995) and "Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me for Me)" (1999) have enjoyed airplay but, unless the DJ provides the info, many have been left to wonder "who are they?" The year 2001 found the band settling down after a bit of shuffling between labels and releasing The Singles
on V2 Records. This 15-song best-of set is a worthy collection of Blessid Union of Souls
' work, showcasing the band's talent at crafting emotional pop/rock ballads and mid-tempo fare. Included are the hits "I Believe," "Hey Leonardo" (original and live versions), and "Let Me Be the One," as well as two new songs: "And Then She Hit Me" and "Storybook Life," the collection's first single release. These buoyant geek rock numbers are reminiscent of Barenaked Ladies
songs, with their sophomoric lyrics about a boy's attempt to, as the saying goes, "get the girl." A fun punk-reggae version of "I Believe" will galvanize listeners who are uninitiated to this side of the typically light band. Another refreshing moment of musical diversity comes by way of the Allman
-esque "Oh Virginia," which melds '70s-style southern rock with a contemporary drum machine rock pattern. For the most part, however, The Singles
is very hands-in-pockets, wide-eyed, kick-the-can stuff, rife with acoustic guitars and piano and string arrangements -- all defining characteristics of Blessid Union of Souls
. They are remarkably gifted at expressing emotions with the wonder, awkwardness, and innocence often associated with children and teenagers -- this is largely their appeal -- and lead singer Eliot Sloan
's expressive voice is the perfect instrument to evoke the sentiment. There is a sense of longing, naiveté, and hope found on their songs and it touches the idealist in all who listen. This is best exemplified in the tongue-in-cheek "Hey Leonardo," an irresistible account of the unworthiness sometimes felt in the presence of a partner (think dork meets beauty queen). The Singles
is not without its weak moments, however. "Wanna Be There" is a bit schmaltzy and "Rev It Up" is an uncomfortable attempt by the band to rock out; this demonstrates that Blessid Union of Souls
should stick to what it does best -- sentimental pop-rock fare.
Minor flaws notwithstanding, The Singles
is an enjoyable collection that captures the band's best career moments. Now, hopefully, people will know who they are.