Review Summary: Back in 2001, Puddle of Mudd releases a memorable, albeit somewhat forged replica of 90's grunge rock.
Puddle Of Mudd, I mean what can I say? Led by the vocals of Wes Scantlin, this group had an interesting run during the early 2000's with hits like "Control" and "Blurry". Come Clean, while obviously a superimposed version of popular albums of the early 1990's such as "Ten" and "Nevermind" is actually a pretty solid album. I actually take up little issue with bands such as Creed and Puddle Of Mudd, and while they both have had some pretty solid songs released over the course of their careers, their lack of innovation to add to their influences is ultimately what hurts them. Modern music doesn't want to see another Chris Cornell or Layne Staley, it wants to see the face of a new musician that is carrying the torch towards something greater. Otherwise, music stays occupied in this stagnant force field that in many ways can ultimately lead to the death of a genre as groups performing within a string of sounds similar to one genre eventually become played out. Essentially, there is little to show on Come Clean that could be identified with innovation or a change of pace. I don't see Puddle Of Mudd combining shoegaze or post punk with grunge rock like The Constants are doing. I don't see Puddle of Mudd combining progressive sounds and electronica with rock music the way Dead Letter Circus has. The point to be held is the ultimately, Puddle of Mudd is recycling old concepts; the question of course is to ask if Puddle of Mudd is recycling those old concepts well and generally speaking I'd have to say that the answer is yes.
The first song off of Come Clean opens up with radio single "Control" which opens up with some heavy rifts and Scantlin begins his descent into a "cobain like falsetto" with lyrics about some girl that he'd like to get down with while the chorus opens up with the words "I need to feel you". It's not exactly the intense imagery of a stoner rock band like ASG or the nihilistic lyrics that most grunge bands were known for, but in all fairness it is a pretty catchy rock song with some strong chords. Personally, despite the obvious mimics and emulations that this album has to offer, there is some gold here. Songs like "Abrasive" is about as creative as it gets with this group, but it's still some pretty enjoyable stuff and pretty accessible (while not incredible). "Abrasive" does have an interesting instrumental change that I like about two minutes into the song and it certainly has a sound that is far superior to even more modern rock acts like the generic sound of the Black Veil Brides. As much as I hate to admit it though, Nirvana never wrote an emotional ballad like "Blurry". While they certainly had some incredible tunes like "Rape Me" and "In Bloom", they never were able to bring out an acoustic intro and deep lyricism the way Puddle Of Mudd was able to do here. Perhaps if Puddle Of Mudd had stuck more towards their song orientation on something like "Blurry" this release they would have been more relevant to modern music. Nirvana however succeeded in range of other ways that made them far superior to what Scantlin has done here but the way "Blurry" finishes out with an explosive chorus of rage and acoustic emotion is pretty well put together. It may be true that Cobain had a stronger presence on the mic and alot more genuine pain in his heart, but in all fairness Scantlin and crew didn't do too bad of a job here.
Like all bands that are criticized the way they are, we only wish they would drop mainstream aesthetics in favor of something more experimental. Perhaps we need to reserve that position for the next great musical movement. There is of course the slight possibility that such a unity of musicians never happens. In the same way that grunge purged the 80's of its glam metal, will some new indie movement be able to purge off the commercialized commodities of today? Grunge was able to borrow from the aestethics of post punk, new wave, stoner rock and hardcore to establish something new and innovative, something hair metal just couldn't hold up a candle to. Is it possible that our culture has become too consumed in the "copies of a copy" that we may never be able to break out of the musical slump that we find ourselves in now? I generally don't like to stand on the more negative side of things, attempting at some grasp of reason to believe that a new musical genre is forming on the backbone of underground music today, but another part of me says that the radio format has become eternal and that as a reflection of our culture, there is nothing that we can really do to change that. Let's hope I'm wrong.