The Harsh Light of Day (Hollywood)
Ahhhh, the sweet smell of success! "This," sings Miles Zuniga on The Harsh Light of Day
's opening track, "this is not my life. This is not my face, this is not my place -- no, this just isn't right." Roaring to life on major-label production values, Fastball uncorks its third delivery for Hollywood Records, firing a 95mph-er right down the middle of the plate. Nothing fancy, just major league power: swelling strings, pitch-perfect harmonies, and stainless steel riffs and hooks. "You're an Ocean," the album's hummably dorky first single, segues quickly out of "This Is Not My Life" and aims for the same platinum bullseye "The Way" hit on the local trio's 1998 breakthrough, All the Pain Money Can Buy
. And this time, a million units later, there's pain, all right. "Millions of people loved what you did, but when it hit ya, you ran and hid," muses Zuniga on the pouting "Goodbye," countered by his alter-superego Tony Scalzo on the adjoining "Love Is Expensive and Free" ("You can talk to me about powder kegs and how I'm sitting on one right now"). Back and forth they go, Zuniga at turns maudlin and philosophical, but always romantic ("Dark Street," "Vampires"), while Scalzo bipolarizes from extreme highs ("Morning Star") to self-pitying lows ("Funny How It Fades Away"). All the Pain Money Can Buy
served up titles like "Better Than It Was," "Which Way to the Top?" and of course, "Warm Fuzzy Feeling." The Harsh Light of Day
blinks back lines such as, "Money honey, buys you things, [but] it can't buy a place in the sky, and time beats up on you -- another year disappeared" ("Time"). The Harsh Light of Day
-- all the pain money can buy.