Album Review: Counting Crows confront demons on new LP

It has been over five years since the release of their last album, but Counting Crows are back and just as enjoyable and depressing as ever. After their first four albums were released, it became no surprise to the frequent Crows listener that singer/songwriter Adam Duritz is incredibly lonely and disheartened. The difference between their new album, Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, and the previous four is that Duritz finally incorporates what brings about his constantly dejected attitude. It's no big surprise that alcohol is involved.

The title, Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, splits the album into two themes. The first six songs on the album are rocking anthems for drinking, partying and promiscuous one-night stands - sinning, to be exact; the typical events that take place on a Saturday night. The last eight songs are acoustic serenades, explaining the hangovers, the remorse and the guilt about the events that occurred the night before; the typical feelings of a Sunday morning. The two themes mesh together in such a way that creates a unique style compared to their previous albums.

Following the fireworks of the opener, "1492," is what seems to be the big hit single of the album: "Hanging Tree." Compared to the lyrics of "1492," which is about the party atmosphere, "Hanging Tree" takes the typical depressing track of Duritz's lyrics. With lyrics that speak about a world where you're not able to connect with anyone ("You open windows and you wait for someone warm to come inside and then freeze to death alone"), it sets the tone for the remainder of the album, which finds Duritz falling deeper and deeper into self-remorse.

The acoustic, relaxed feeling that exists within the final eight songs perfectly sets the tone for Duritz's feelings about how he has sinned the night before. One of the standouts on this part of the album is "On Almost Any Sunday Morning." Duritz realizes that he was so desperate not to be alone on Saturday night that he took home any girl he could - the wrong girl. He wakes up feeling depression and self-hatred for his decision and ends up resorting to lithium in order help cure the pain he is feeling.

It isn't until the end of the album on, "Come Around" and "Le Ballet d'Or," that Duritz finally realizes that it is time to learn from the wrong decisions he has been making. While the lyrics are not exactly up to par with previous cryptic Crows classics, they do offer promise that perhaps Duritz is finally trying to get out of the same funk that has inspired his lyrics on 1993's August and Everything After. If he does eventually do this, however, that could just be the moment the Counting Crows break up.