Artist – Toad the Wet Sprocket
Album – Dulcinea
Year – 1994
Genre – Alternative Rock
Oh I’ve been looking forward to putting this band on the list for a long, long time. I’m going to give you five seconds to take in the band name and let the laughs out. One…two…three…four…five. Ok, that should be good. In all seriousness, Toad the Wet Sprocket has put out some very strong material over the years. “Something’s Always Wrong” is a sensitive, very poignant song about the stress of forming new relationships and learning to find compromise.
The opening of the song just sucks you in with that crisp, clear guitar tone reminiscent of of R.E.M. The opening riff sets the tone for the rest of the song: reflective and sad, with that touch of longing. I don’t know what it is about this song’s production, but it sounds great throughout. Every instrument rings out and nothing and no one overpowers anyone else. The whole band is on point with that 90’s alternative sound (you know the one.)
Frontman Glen Phillips has a wonderful voice for a song of this type, and he’s backed well by his bandmates. His voice wavers and fades out on certain lines in each verse, which leads you to sense what an emotional and powerful song this is for him. The chorus is catchy enough, but on the last line, which just happens to be “but something’s always wrong,” I just break out in goosebumps. The chord progression and the series of note drops that he sings mixed with the heavy sadness in his voice just brings out strong emotions in me. It’s for sure the highlight of the song. Not only that, but there’s a really, really cool vocal pick up with the backing vocals that form verses of their own behind Phillips’ own. Keep an ear open for that.
If that wasn’t good enough, there’s a cathartic bridge section with a strong melody of its own, followed by an even better chorus that repeats that wonderful line three times! It’s good to get what you want. The song ends with the rest of the band showing what they’re made of and they run through the melody of the song until a final end. The instrumentals of this song are almost as good as the vocals, and every member knows his place and they play off each other perfectly.
The lyrics get me in this one. I’m at a point in my life where I can relate to this song very much. Here are both the verses:
Another day I call and never speak
And you would say nothing’s changed at all
And I can’t feel much hope for anything
If I won’t be there to catch you if you fall
Another game of putting things aside
As if we’ll come back to them some time
A brace of hope a pride of innocence
And you would say something has gone wrong
Aren’t those beautiful words? As he expresses his affection and want to be the comforting presence in this other person’s life, it’s apparent that the other party keeps pushing him to the side and not truly paying much attention to him. In a simpler sense, his love is unrequited, but the sad thing is that his longing still remains by the end of the song, and nothing has truly resolved for him. This rings so true for many people who have are trying to find a partner out there, and those who have loved and lost. It sometimes feelings like something really is always wrong whether it be in the search for love or in the relationship its self, or even in the loss. That’s why this song is so important.
Toad the Wet Sprocket may have the strangest band name I have ever chanced upon, but boy can they make some beautiful music. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, I suppose. This song is more than worth remembering. For all the lovers, the romantics, and the lonely out there, this song is for you. We may never hear from this band again, but their past music remains for us to connect to. As Gene from Bob’s Burgers said, “He gave us his magic and then disappeared. Just like Toad the Wet Sprocket.”
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