Review Summary: "Can you take it all away?"
Puddle Of Mudd is often portrayed by critics as a cleaned-up version of Nirvana. While the band does play a calculated form of grunge that recalls the earlier bands of the 90s and yes, Wes Scantlin does certainly seem to sound like Kurt Cobain at times, I find that I have to disagree with this comparison. For one, Puddle of Mudd have a reputation for big-sounding singles and mediocre albums, and for two, let us not even forget the fact that the sound of Puddle Of Mudd’s albums are way more cleaned-up and commercial than anything Kurt Cobain would even pen his name to. That being said, there’s one more reason why this band could never be placed with the likes of Nirvana: the band are devoid of any creativity and originality whatsoever.
The band has returned this year from being famous
with their fourth outing: Volume 4: Songs in the Key of Love & Hate
. As it turns out, the album is exactly what this unnecessarily large album title says it is, begging the question: were not the band's albums before this about these same subjects as well? Whatever the case may be, the band continues their creation of American bad-boy rock with songs of parties, girls, and love – as the band refers to it anyway – but anything new
- particularly in terms of the genre - fails to show up in the music.
The album contains the customary clichés of commercial grunge; the first of which can be found in “Stoned” as the thirty-five minute record begins to play. Anyone relatively familiar with the bands in this market of music will probably notice the similarities between this song and that of Hinder’s Extreme Behavior
opener, “Get Stoned”. The subjects are all but identical, and it is a relatively different melody that saves the band from plagiarism. The band carries an aggressive attitude for much of the album – particularly when it comes to women – yet, there are instances when Wes Scantlin portrays his soft side with a ballad or two in the forms of “Keep It Together” and “The Only Reason”. This is now a common habit that can be seen in many such records from the likes of Nickelback and Hinder: eight or so songs are party-fueled and aggressive rockers, and whatever remains of the album comes in the form of these lovely and tender-hearted ballads. These ballads are often placed in the record for commercial reasons as the common trend tends to indicate that singles of this type do the best on the charts.
“Hooky” closes off the relatively short record, and as Wes Scantlin sings in his grunge-tinged voice: ”I don’t wanna to go to school today; I wanna stay home and masturbate,”
I realize that I just can’t take this band seriously. They have made the same record four times in a row, and while this is not a terrible effort by any means, the album has been replicated again and again by this band already – and by many other bands as well for that matter. Unfortunately, there also isn’t a “Blurry” or “Psycho” here either that will ensure this album’s success in the mainstream. What’s left is simply a collection of songs about love and hate - nothing more, nothing less.
How about next time we make an album in the key of originality and innovation, eh boys?