Stupor-Group, Anyone?

Can you call two-fifths of Blind Melon and the original drummer for Pearl Jam a supergroup? No. The math just doesn't add up. You could call them superficial, unless you think the junior high-ish poetry of "Is this fear or love I feel?/ Did we sink or are we sailing?" — from "Keep On" — is profound.

Sometimes inventive music can save less-than-interesting lyrics, but in the case of "Keep On" (RealAudio excerpt), the instrumentation sounds pompous and overblown — sort of like Queen without the tongue firmly in cheek. (In fact, rookie singer Chris Shinn even sounds like Freddie Mercury when he kicks it into falsetto mode.) "Keep On" builds from a simple melody played on electric piano and quickly explodes into a fireworks display consisting of Christopher Thorn's guitar, Brad Smith's bass, Dave Krusin's drums and a string section whose players sound like they're wearing a heavy layer of Kashmir.

Unified Theory play melodramatic art rock (with a capital AOR) in a Meatloaf-meets-Jane's Addiction kind of way. Their music plods along with all the grace of a Pinto sans muffler, substituting grandiosity for grace and thus failing to achieve the dramatically transcendent sounds that Roy Orbison and Jeff Buckley once made.

Although they have a song called "A.M. Radio" (RealAudio excerpt), they are obviously referring to the time of day, not the frequency, because it's clear that these guys have been weaned on FM rock. "In the morning/ All falls into focus/ Time just a number/ While I'm wrapped in you," Shinn sings, as layers of overdubbed guitars swirl around him and the pounding bass and drums announce to the world that Unified Theory's music is BIG. Yes, sometimes size does matter, but it's no substitute for good songs — which this group lacks, BIG time. Granted, tracks such as "A.M. Radio," "Cessna" and "Wither" (RealAudio excerpt) have anthem-wannabe choruses, but they are anthems without much content, and they generically blur into one another.

"Keep on keepin' on," Shinn wails. "Don't wait for the wind to blow." A fellow named Bob Dylan used to metaphorically sing of meteorological events, once observing that "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." I'm here to tell you that you don't need a rock critic to know that this album blows. You only need to listen to it.