Review by Jack on July 19, 2003.
If you are a fan of In Flames, and additionally Gardenian then I assume that Passenger's self-titled debut record would have initially come across as something of a boon to you. Like you I was getting a bit giddy with excitement at the prospect of a collaboration from both Anders and Niclas. I went to the Century Media website and downloaded a track – 'In Reverse.' It was a solid song with catchy riffs and Anders in fine vocal form, making "Passenger" worth checking out, I thought.
However, once I actually listened to the entire record I was in for a rude shock. Not only did 'In Reverse' make up one of the most accomplished tracks on "Passenger" but the rest of the material from Passenger must surely rank as some of the most insipid and dry song compositions that have ever come to pass as a record. Frankly, I feel disgusted with both Anders and Niclas for this dismal excuse for a record. They would have been much better advised to release an EP or MCD worth of their best stuff (which is 2-3 tracks at best)... gauge a general consensus as to how they feel about it, maybe ask how some of the 'honest' fans feel about it, and then go to work on making a full record.
Effectively what we are presented with are a few decent songs that are comprised of some catchy hooks; 100% grooving material and topped with the enormously talented Anders on vocals. I have no problem with this whatsoever. What I do have grave difficulties accepting are the tracks, which lack heart, soul or whatever you want to refer to it as. Having Anders carry these songs with his vocals, without really formulating creative song-writing just bores people to tears and is exactly what Passenger have come to town with.
Bottom Line: Pedestrian songwriting and mediocre creativity have ensured that Passenger will remain exactly that – a simple passenger on the musical highway. Strictly for fans only, but even then you ought to approach with caution.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 4.4 out of 10