Review Summary: Following the radio rock textbook one boring album at a time.
Although there are a few talented acts that manage to become successful on rock radio, they’re lost in the sea of mediocrity that is the norm in the genre. Plenty of the same unoriginal, watered-down schlock that has entertained listeners for the past few years still does so today, although recently the tides have been changing for the better. Generic post-grunge is slowly falling out of play, while newer acts that bring something slightly different to the table are ascending to popularity. The quota for what many call “butt rock” on radio airwaves is diminishing, and music of higher quality has taken its place instead.
But then again, Adelitas Way are still scoring top ten hits.
When they first came out with their self-titled debut back in 2009, the Las Vegas-based quartet made a name for themselves as just another generic post-grunge band, taking the place of Puddle of Mudd and Saliva once they had fallen into their well-deserved irrelevancy. Rising to stardom after “Invincible” became the theme song for WWE Superstars
and Smackdown vs. Raw 2010
, they scored more hits with “Invincible Part II: This Time It’s Personal”, “Invincible Part III” and “Invincible Part IV” (better known to the general public as “Sick”, “The Collapse” and “Criticize”, respectively). Like most other modern post-grunge acts, there’s a severe lack of variation that limits the output of the end product – you can only reuse the same guitar riff, vocal performance and lyrical matter so long before it becomes a carbon copy of everything else in your career.
It’s not like Stuck
brings anything new to the table – the album follows the same formula that Adelitas Way have been using for the last two records. The best word to describe the band’s third effort would be ‘generic’, which captures all aspects of it, whether it be the lyrical matter or instrumentation. Everything about this album has been done to death in some, way, shape or form, and I’ll be damned if anything hasn’t been done on a prior Adelitas Way record. “Blur” manages to steal the exact same riff from “Little Things” that Bush used twenty years ago on one of the first post-grunge albums ever made, while “Stuck” sounds like an old Seether B-side, dragging along at a snail’s pace for four minutes, going nowhere at all. The trifecta of ballads in the album’s latter half are reminiscent of All the Right Reasons
-era Nickelback, although that’s not to say they’re entirely unbearable; after all, frontman Rick DeJesus is a much better singer than Chad Kroeger is, and he can inject quite a few doses of emotion into his vocals when he wants to. “Undivided” is a good example of this, and even if it’s pretty cheesy, it gets the job done, while the integration of strings in “Something More” is a unique concept, and not a bad one at that. They rank among Stuck
’s best tracks, if only for the above-average instrumentation and somewhat emotional vocals.
Strangely enough, despite all its overarching flaws, there aren’t that many straight-up horrible moments on the album. DeJesus does strain his voice while trying to reach the high notes, which is evident on “Keep Me Waiting” and the title track, although the second half of the former is actually a pretty good rocker, with a decent guitar solo to boot. Make no mistake – Stuck
is not a good album, but it’s one whose greatest crime is being unoriginal and boring. Unlike their last two records, there’s nothing offensively bad. Aside from a few songs here and there, everything blends together, sounding like either a tepid, lifeless attempt at rocking out or a half-assed effort at trying to be emotional. While the latter does manage to conjure up a few good results, the harder tracks are the ones that fall flat the most. Lost in the fact that lead single “Dog on a Leash” underperformed and charted lower than every single off of Home School Valedictorian
is the fact that it’s actually one of the better songs on Stuck
, with a memorable hook (even if DeJesus’ pronunciation of the title phrase at the start and finish of it is rather grating).
Although every second of Adelitas Way’s third studio album is unoriginal, generic radio rock, that’s perhaps its greatest offense. Aside from some nonsensical lyrics (“I gotta ask you to leave, I gotta ask you to piss”) and the occurrence of a few off-key vocals, there’s really nothing memorable about Stuck
, good or bad. All of this adds up to perhaps the band’s best record to date, mainly due to the absence of anything majorly terrible. “Undivided” does contain one of Rick DeJesus’ best vocal performances to date, while the tick-tocking bells and repeating distortion in the background adds to the sentimentality of the song. Even if Adelitas Way are still far from the best band on rock radio today, I do give them credit for wiping away the shreds of callous songwriting that was the basis of “Sick” and “Criticize”. Now let’s see if they can improve on this…