Review Summary: Like it says in the title, Results May Vary is a mixed bag.
Often, bands have certain qualities that listeners utilize to identify them with; those distinct characteristics that permeate each release and are an integral part of a band’s sound. Unique atmospheres and feelings created by different artists are the reason a stranger can saunter into a room and recognise an artist work, regardless of whether the individual song is familiar to them or not. But apart from acting as a crucial identification technique, these ‘distinct qualities’ are the essential framework of what defines a band musical appeal. It is what ultimately entices a listener, or repels them.
Now, when you build a bands success on a very specific style of music, it is expected that your work afterwards will be somewhat resemblant. Deviating too far from the roots that grew your career is almost certainly disastrous. So when Limp Bizkit, whose origins lie in a combination of aggression and entertainment, decided to take a more heartfelt, ballad filled route on their 4th LP, there was, understandably, no small amount of confusion and disappointment.
Even at the summit of Limp Bizkit’s success (somewhere after the release of ‘Significant Other’) there was a musical division, a metaphorical ‘parting of the seas’ for Limp Bizkit listeners. A large number of scathing comments came forth, most of them directed at front-man Fred Durst. They consisted mainly of opinions based on his personality but the music itself was not spared criticism. Portions of undesirable critiques coalesced together, and that coupled with the gradual decline in nu-metal’s popularity meant that the future was not looking good for Limp Bizkit. Fred Durst has made some questionable decisions as a front man, the majority of which, though, seldom affected the music. However, after the release of ‘Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavoured Water’, Wes Borland (whom many regarded as the most talented member of the band) departed, leaving Fred Durst as chief songwriter. Whether or not he is solely responsible for the quality of this album, or the departure simply had an adverse effect on the head-space of the band members, it’s clear that something wasn’t working here.
The cliché path generally taken when a band’s popularity begins to slide is to release an ever-popular, failsafe ‘back to roots’ album. While it’s commendable that such a trite and predictable action was not undertaken (they waited another few years for that), the alternative is not at all a superior outcome for Limp Bizkit. What we end up with is an album much too far away from their trademark sound to be more than mildly interesting for older fans. Put simply, it’s mostly just … boring.
From the album’s inception, however, there are no indications of what mediocrity this disc contains. The token Limp Bizkit intro opens up the album with a predictable spoken-word meets instrumental number. So far, the expectations are being met. The first track, the extremely solid single ‘Eat You Alive’, jumps out and sinks its saliva ridden incisors into the listener; it’s actually quite a captivating track. Already though, a small amount of the ballad-style disappointment reveals itself partway through, shattering any semblance of momentum that the single would have gathered. The heartfelt lyrics and love-song-esque vocal longing that Fred Durst adopts feel really out of place when only moments earlier he is voicing thoughts of ‘Eating her alive’. These sexually provocative lyrics surprisingly don’t meld as seamlessly as you would think with lines such as “I just wanna look at you all day”. I know, it was a shocking realisation for me too, but at least I managed to pick up on it, a lot unlike the songs creator. The following track though, digs right around the roots of ‘Significant Other’ uncovering memories of the epitomized entertainment-meets angst of Limp Bizkit’s history. So maybe the little stumble in the opening track was just that, a stumble. Surely, just as an athlete can recover from a small fall, this album too can make a full recuperation. But it’s not to be. What follows are an assortment of good-but-not-great tracks that are, to be completely honest, just uninteresting and unentertaining from the one band that almost convince you that fun is a guarantee solely with their band name.
It’s not all bad though, scattered throughout the album are small gems, sections that could pump up a crowd, places that demand to be sung along to, catchy rhythms and tantalizing riffs, but you have to sift through a lot of decayed leaf foliage to find these golden grubs. Sometimes the ballads work too, ‘Build a Bridge’ is a perfect example that LB aren’t devoid of talent when writing songs that invoke emotions other than anger. But then there are an overwhelming number of instances where these ballads seem to drone on for too long with seemingly no direction, such as on ‘Underneath the Gun’. It’s not a bad track, but it’s not an unforgettable piece of musical genius either. If assumptions can be made here, the success of ‘Build a Bridge’ may have sparked the entire pseudo-concept of ballad style Bizkit. Even rap flavoured ‘Red Light-Green Light’ barely manages to break the monotony, which is incredibly sad considering Limp Bizkit are the masters of “Breaking Stuff”. ‘Lonely World’ ‘Almost Over’ and ‘Creamer’ manage to add a little more interesting ideas to the album, but much too late to lift the album’s overall quality. ‘Head for the Barricade’ is also surprisingly solid, with an upbeat tempo and some catchy choruses, proving this album is at least worth a listen or two for casual fans.
Of course, the infamous ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ lurks menacingly on this album as the dark stain of embarrassment to a lot of fans of ‘The Who’. All I have to say on the matter is that they’re over-reacting. It’s not the train wreck the masses will have you believe, it’s simply another slow song for a slow album, and there’s something strangely enjoyable about it.
Overall, this album is mostly bleak, nowhere near as intense or enjoyable as Limp Bizkit’s previous work and contains mud splattered gems that are only worth searching for when you’re in an unhappy mood to begin with. Unfortunately, Results May Vary ironically embodies the title it carries with an uncharacteristic honesty.
Eat You Alive
Gimme the Mic
Build a Bridge
Red Light-Green Light
Head for the Barricade