Review Summary: Welcome back Brett Scallions, rock has missed you...
Fuel is one of those alternative rock bands who had it's heyday in the late '90s to early 2000s. With songs like "Hemorrhage", "Fall Into Me", and "Sunburn" the band found a home at active rock radio. Most of the success could be attributed to the presence of charismatic frontman Brett Scallions, who left the band after 2003's Natural Selections album in order to sing for the re-united Doors. The rest of Fuel soldiered on with new vocalist Toryn Green, and managed one album, 2007's Angels & Devils.
However, in 2009 Scallions revived his own version of Fuel under the brand Re-Fueled, which subsequently became the "new" Fuel. After a slew of lineup changes, Scallions and co. got to work recording the first new Fuel album in seven years, Puppet Strings. The lineup of Fuel featured on Puppet Strings is now Scallions on guitar/vocals, Andy Andersson on guitar/mandolin/dobro, former Shinedown bassist Brad Stewart, and Ken Schalk on drums, who has since left the band.
While the last Fuel album, Angels & Devils was very much rooted in Three Days Grace-esque alternative rock, Puppet Strings is a completely different animal. The sound is deeply rooted in rock n' roll with Southern influences. While songs like "Soul to Preach To" would fit in fairly well with the rest of classic-era Fuel, there's a distinct bluesy edge to most of Puppet Strings that makes it stand out.
"Yeah" is a straight-forward anthemic rock song that will surely go down at Fuel concerts, as is "Time For Me To Stop". Scallions and friends do stretch their legs on tracks like The Black Crowes influenced "Hey, Mama" and the punchy title track, featuring Scallions one-time Doors bandmate Robbie Krieger on guitar. The rock n' roll vibe that exists throughout most of Puppet Strings is only reinforced by Scallions' vocals, which are drenched in classic rock tones.
Not all of Puppet Strings is perfect though. "I Can See The Sun" fails to stand out on an album dominated by driving rock n' roll songs, along with the less-inspired "Cold Summer". Otherwise, Puppet Strings is a damn good rock n' roll record that reintroduces the Brett Scallions brand of Fuel to the marketplace. However, Puppet Strings is no mere radio rock record. The musicianship on here is a touch above most radio rock, and the tasty rock riffage gives Puppet Strings it's fun element. For a "comeback", Puppet Strings is a fine one.