Two valuable lessons can be gleaned from the Wallflowers' new album, Breach, which was projected to be one of the year's bestsellers but is already headed the wrong way on the charts.1. You can't stay away too long. The band's last album, the blockbuster Bringing Down the Horse, which sold 6 million copies worldwide, was released in 1996. With today's fickle fans, that's more than enough time to allow even your most ardent supporters to slip away. Longtime superstar acts like Springsteen and the Stones can get away with that, perhaps, but Breach is only the third Wallflowers album in eight years. It's always been unfair to compare frontman Jakob Dylan to his famous father, but c'mon -- even his Bobness has been more prolific than that.
2. Sometimes being good just isn't good enough. Breach is an excellent album, thanks to such tracks as the crushing familial putdown "Hand Me Down," the shambling "I've Been Delivered" and the sweet "Baby Bird." But it's completely out of step with what captures the attention of the Total Request Live-obsessed industry these days. Who wants to know from a rock band with a 30 (30!)-year-old singer anymore?
The answer to that, of course, is "people who love good music regardless of the demographic it serves." Bringing Down the Horse was one of those albums that developed over time, which was one reason it sold so many copies and had such a long life. It may be that Breach is in the same category, which would be a good thing. That way, we can stop deriving lessons from how many copies a record sells or doesn't sell and simply enjoy the music for what it is.