311 is loved and hated; the two strong emotions permeate from music fans and concert-goers every summer during the band’s annual Summer Unity Tour. The hardcore fans get behind the music and will follow 311 for as long as they keep going. The haters will disrespect every slight imperfection– the kind that all bands encounter– and put it on a grand scale of the worst thing to happen in music.
The truth is that there’s no right or wrong answer, and that’s what makes music so amazing. In the ears of some fans, 311′s new album, Universal Pulse, will be a great rehash of earlier efforts and a return to a less pop, more rap/rock sound. On the contrary, others may hear it as the same 311 album they’ve heard nine times before. Thus, the great debate begins.
To have an appreciation for what this album is, you have to have a sense of where this band has been. 311 went from being the next big thing in 1995 following their smash self-titled album, to nearly falling completely off the charts with the exception of a few strong singles. This happened because they continued to evolve and change the way they made music and their sound. However, without the help of album sales and strong radio play, 311 still manages to tour two to three times a year and successfully fill amphitheaters and clubs. That doesn’t necessarily speak to the quality of music itself, but does give a nod to how the music affects their fans. Even without an album or single to tour behind, they are still in high demand every time they hit the road.