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According to several music industry insiders—OK, a scary cashier at Kemp Mill, my friend Sandy, and some cyberfreak named “skimask” on the Internet—for more than a year Adam Duritz lacked the confidence to write songs for Counting Crows’ sophomore effort, Recovering the Satellites. If this is true, and there’s no reason to doubt such pundits, I have only this to say: Are you fucking kidding me? Duritz is a pasty troll with plug-in dreadlocks, yet he still managed to shtup Jennifer Aniston. I mean, how much of an ego boost does this guy need? Insecurities and idiots aside, Satellites manages to be a fairly catchy—if not a tad bloated—follow-up to the band’s quintuple-platinum debut (even without August and Everything After producer T-Bone Burnett). Undoubtedly, August’s closer, “A Murder of One,” will always be the Crows’ best song, but two new tracks, “Daylight Fading” and “Have You Seen Me Lately?,” original rockers that showcase lead guitarist David Bryson, complete the band’s best-of trifecta. Satellites’ ass-in-gear first single, “Angels of the Silences,” and two sweeping ballads, “I’m Not Sleeping” and “Goodnight, Elizabeth,” are so obvious in their Duritzness—and their pop likability—that I feel guilty endorsing them (but I will anyway). The album is extremely top-heavy—each of the aforementioned tunes are among Satellites’ first six—and there’s some lugubrious gristle that should have been trimmed from the 14-cut collection. But when the lead Crow doesn’t gush with gothic sap (is it just me or is Duritz always singing about someone “trapped inside a month of grey”?), he’s capable of guilty pleasures damn near impossible to refuse.

—Sean Daly