With the exception of their first album, Counting Crows have been short-changed by most critics. As a Counting Crows fan, my first thoughts upon receiving Hard Candy
were that I could perhaps contribute, in some small way, to their critical re-evaluation.
Unfortunately (for me, at least), Hard Candy isn't really deserving of much praise. It starts off well, with both the title track and "American Girls" sustaining the mood of the group's last album, This Desert Life. From there, however, everything just sort of blends together. Mid-tempo rocker follows mid-tempo rocker without any change of pace to keep things interesting. Near the disc's end, on "New Frontier", it looks as if things are about to pick up again, but it proves to be an aberration -- one of the album's few highlights after the opening one-two punch.
At this stage of the group's career, innovation is hardly expected of them, but it's not unreasonable to expect them to be able to do what they've done before. With Hard Candy, Counting Crows fail to live up to even those modest expectations.