Review Summary: Wes and company spent the majority of therecord just strumming along whatever the hell came to their mind first.
It definitely was not easy for Puddle of Mudd to top their breakthrough, "Come Clean". That record, while good, was not amazing by any stretch, so there was enough space for improvement. It was hard job still, since the album had massive commercial drive and mainstream appeal, with huge hits like "Blurry" and "She Hates Me". But after they used up all of the potential singles from that album, it was time for a follow-up, which was pretty highly anticipated (something that can't be said for PoM in 2019), and they had enough money and time to deliver once again, pretty decent, if not better this time, radio rock.
The first taste we had was "Away From Me", that started with quieter, more melodic (and even kind of ominous) riff, leading into powerchord-fest we all knew and loved when it came to them. And it is honestly a good track, decent instrumentation, good, if maybe too nasal, vocals from Scantlin, high energy, it is loud for the most part, and it once again reached the top spot on rock charts. So the hype was even bigger...
Too bad Wes and company spent the rest of the record just strumming along whatever the hell came to their mind first. The lead-off single starts this thing on a high note, and right after that the album devolves in every way imaginable. I can literally sum up every song with just one description, since it applies to nearly every track here, they all sound-alike.
Firstly, the lack of mainstream appeal and catchiness is apparent as early as the second single plays. Well, there were two more singles, "Spin You Around" and "Heel Over Head". They are both acoustic in the beggining and they get louder as they go on, in the same fashion. It is honestly head-scratching they picked these two songs as singles, since they are the most boring filler-by-numbers imaginable. Standard progressions played in the blandest way imaginable, mind-numbingly repetitive already mediocre lyrics, and non-existence of real hook.
And this is basically "Life on Display"'s biggest (but not the only) problem. Hooks are one thing you have to get right as the radio rock band, but there little to no such things to be found here. Choruses are more often than not just an extension of verses and some of them get even quieter than the verse! Songs like "Cloud 9", "Sydney" and "Time Flies" all have interesting enough titles, but they could've been scraped altogether and save us some tome. The most generic music imaginable, with no variety. Lyrics are sub-par and vapid and Wes sounds so bored that his already pretty nasal voice sounds borderline unlistenable. Not to mention "Time Flies" is seven goddamn minutes long! For a post grunge song that is twice as lengthy as it needs to be. It could work, honestly, if they played more than 4 chords and maybe added a solo somewhere in there, but it is not progressive and it sounds mind-numbing. I can mention repetitive "Think" as one of the most standard songs I've heard, ever, with 2 guitar chords played through the intire song, or unbearably cliche and mediocre "Already Gone", but there's honestly no point. You already zone out by the time these songs are meant to be played.
To address some positives though, there are some fine instrumentals, like the bassline on overly long "Bottom", or the opening riff from "Nothing Left to Lose". Those are some okay highlights, but other than the album opener, the only halfway good song is "Change My Mind", with more interesting progression, and a decent enough hook (compared to every other song here). Not even those are not super spectacular high points, but they shine in this ocean of uncountable filler songs.
This is pretty much problem with Puddle of Mudd in general; too much filler is exported on their studio released. While this was not all that apparent on the last album, it is hard to find an truly enjoyable track on here. There is nothing catchy, nor anything so ridiculous it literally gets stuck in your head, it just exists, and that itself makes is pretty bad.
Overall though, it is really not terrible by any means, but it is unremarkable. There also weren't any huge hits like "Blurry", so it was a commercial failure as well. All this adds up to, in my opinion, the worst record in their intire discography. It is too bad they phoned it in in the early stages of their career, they clearly had potential, and whatever it takes to create something better, but they've chosen not to. And that really sucks, since even after this they released "Famous" and "Volume 4", and they're both much more reminiscent of quality of "Come Clean". If you want to hear it yourself, I can't really encourage you to do so if you ain't the fan, but if you're curious, first 4 or 5 tracks are enough, since they pretty much sum up the intire experience.
Away From Me
Change My Mind