“For many the name Eric Bazilian will bring about blank stares. But once you start naming some of the songs he has written or co-written (‘One of Us,’ ‘Kiss the Rain’ to name two) usually a spark of recognition begins. His work as a hit song writer came a few years after success as a member of the Hooters began to dwindle” (Batik).
“Now eight years after the last Hooters studio album we have The Optimist…It comes with a sigh of relief that some artists do care about music and lyric content” (Batik). “He’s constantly evolving, consistently honing his craft (both as a musician and songwriter), and digging as deep as he can to keep the spirit alive” (Valentine).
“The songs…pick up where the Hooters Out of Body left off and go in an entirely new direction. Eric plays the majority of the instruments with the familiar mandolin and saxophone making appearances here and there” (Batik). “At the core, Eric is deeply methodical, and cut very much out of the Lennon/McCartney cloth, but his lyrics tend to venture more into the sardonic...Eric may be unknown to most in the pop world…, but he's very accessible for all his eccentricities” (Valentine). “Because he’s gifted at his craft…and can spin a pop lyric with the best of them, Eric has created a work that is highly personal, while comfortably familiar” (Valentine).
“Don’t be fooled by the fact that this album is a hybrid of basement demo tapes, because these songs smoke most contemporary studio albums” (Valentine). Bazilian “seems to clearly remember what it's like to be an alienated pre-adult. The pleasing assortment of songs on his self-produced solo debut, The Optimist, attest to this” (Blanford).
“The songs grab at you and don’t let go until the final note ends” (Batik). “Tracks such as the sullen Kid from Outer Space, the lightly comical Driving in England, and the very pretty Until You Dare are a few such gems, reminiscent of radio-friendly pop/rock from the late '80s and early '90s” (Blanford).
There’s also “the humorous lyrics of Be My Woman about the relationship between two individuals that have an age difference, or the pessimism of The Optimist” (Batik). Both show “that Eric loves his profession. It’s a shame that his profession has become one of writing hit songs for other artists” (Batik).
“If you want to hear Eric open up and reveal himself [down to the core], simply go straight to track # 10. The song, Hopelessly, Relentlessly includes a guitar solo [that] gives…chills, and when his voice cracks, [it is clear] he’s spilling out his heart with abandon, and has the skill to cut us to the quick. For that reason alone, this album will enjoy a long shelf life” (Valentine).
“The rest of this album falls along similar, non-threatening lines, never veering from the middle-of-the road path Bazilian paved for other artists from Billie Myers to Amanda Marshall and the Hooters. It stands to reason – if the formula worked for them, why not for the craftsman himself? With a graceful and uncomplicated approach, eschewing major labels and going the self-released route is apparently the biggest risk Eric Bazilian takes with this easy to like recording” (Blanford). “The album is really a gift to the pop canon” (Valentine).