In retrospect, Hazel was pleasant but not great, a band who Sub Pop signed more because they were flush with cash than because they figured they had the next Nirvana on their hands. Harsh, perhaps, but Toreador of Love confirms that while there were a lot of bands in the early '90s who had the right influences and sounded appropriately fuzzy and cryptic, it didn't always mean the brass ring of commercial or critical hosannas would result. That's not to say that there aren't moments, though, and in one key area they were actually ahead of the game -- there was a female member, Jody Bleyle, but rather than playing bass she was the drummer, and a darn fine one at that. She's a good singer as well, more individual than guitarist Peter Krebs' half-lazy half-focused voice, and if they can't create something as tense as Black Francis and Kim Deal's duets, say, she holds her own regardless. When she fully takes over, as during some thrilling moments on "Push to Close," and when she really makes a chorus sing, as with "Day-Glo," there's no question she's the centerpiece of the band right then and there. Other points for the band include a fun sense of humor and pop culture -- thus the inclusion of a song called "Boog," after the legendary Baltimore Orioles first baseman, with appropriate introduction and thrashy vigor in the music to boot. Elsewhere there's enough energy and good production from Jack Endino to make everything work very nicely -- the hard-charging "J. Hell" is a fine example, while the immediately following "Everyone's Best Friend" takes a quieter tack that works very nicely. Ultimately, though, Toreador of Love is a promising but not deathless debut, too in hock to its influences to fully succeed.