Review Summary: The album that completely erased Hinder from the mainstream rock map.
By 2010 rock music was probably at its all time worst since it first came out. Not only cause the music started to sound the same, it is also because the genre was dying in the mainstream. This was especially true with post grunge/"butt rock" bands that for the most part formed in the past 10 years and dominated rock and even mainstream radio for the second part of the decade. Some of the most hated bands like Theory of a Deadman, Saving Abel, and even Nickelback was selling less and less with every following release. But none of them dropped off as hard as Hinder.
Hinder was all over the radio, and I mean flooding every radio station in USA with their debut record Extreme Behavior. "Lips of an Angel" was an enormous hit, and even "Better Than Me" and "Get Stoned" were very frequently played back then. It went several times platinum and they had everything going for them and then - they became victim of the sophomore slump. Take it to the Limit was barely even certified gold, and the biggest single "Without You" barely cracked the Hot 100. Critics reviews were overwhelmingly negative towards both releases, and while Take it to the Limit is generally considered better than EB, that didn't really save the record for being popular for a whole - month.
2 years passed and Hinder were back. Better than ever, they told us. The title track was released before the record, and for mainstream standards - it f´in bombed. No Hot 100 entries, and only one top 10 hit on the mainstream rock chart, indicating that Hinder were pretty much dead in the popular eye. However, I'm here to talk about the music, not its success.
Austin Winkler and company were never amazing song crafters, not by anyone's standards, their music often felt very generic and formulaic, and while I still like their first 2 releases unironically, this is where Hinder started to lose me. Firstly, the songwriting. Dear God, the songwriting for this record is more mediocre than ever, because they not only reuse the same structures, they use them in song on the same record now. I mean, full parts! Count how many songs here are mainly played by only 3 or 4 powerchords, that are located on the first 5 frets on the guitar."2 Sides of Me" and "Striptease" use the same riff basically, only in different tempos. "The Life" and "Red Tail Lights" have indistinguishable choruses, both following the same 4 pop chords, only in - get this - a different key. However, these 2 are one of the better songs here, with decently written lyrics, some actual passion, and there is even some solid instrumentation on the latter. "Everybody's Wrong" is of the more unique songs for the record, with added pianos that sound fairly nice, some of the best lyrics Austin has written in a while, and catchy progressions. "Put That Record On" uses a lot of classic rock references, and even though I'm personally annoyed by that, for someone that likes that, this can be a pretty nostalgic song for fans of that genre.
The only truly fun song here is "Hey Ho". Yes, it is kind of arrogant, but at least the instrumentation is catchy and enjoyable, and "hey, ho" chant is great for arenas and their fans to scream along to.
If one thing could be said about Hinder, is that they were really fun at times, you could party and scream along to the likes of "Use Me" and "Up All Night", but the rocking tunes here have this unnecessary dark atmosphere around them that does not fit the band or lyrics at all. "2 Sides of Me" is about a guy - having 2 sides of him - one where he's a good guy and the other wildly alcoholic one, and it revolves around a girl he's with and how he actes differently towards her with each side, title track is about girls and sex, period, "Striptease" is about pop stars selling their bodies to sell music, and while it is actually kind of true for the time, the lyrics are absolutely insulting at times, and the fun they were going for here is virtually non existent.
"Waking Up The Devil" is probably the only truly decent tune with lyrics dealing with drugs and alcohol (again), with catchy lead guitar work and a genuinly great bridge. The darker undertone in the production is less of a problem here than in these other songs.
However, as much as I praised some of the songs here, there are some general issues here. The production is so far the worst than on any previous effort (worse than on Far From Close Ep). Distortion is below average, really bad at moments, drums sound more unnatural than ever, and bass - do I need to talk about bass on a Hinder release? Mike Rodden can play, but the bass is either buried in the mix, completely unaudible, or just hitting the root notes. Drums also not only sound synthetical, they are extremely basic. They were okay, sometimes even good back in the day, but here they are monotonous and add nothing.
Songs are beyond generic, they follow the most standard a** progressions, with barely added melodies, it's just those chords that are knocked into the ground at this point, and the record gets stale fast because of it. Yes, I repeat, there are some passable and fine songs here, but it is not nearly enough to save this disc, it lacks so much punch and it is the weakest Hinder offering with Austin Winkler. Even Welcome to the Freakshow had better crafted tunes, more fun and better production. It was a commercial failure and Hinder's absolute decline from the mainstream, and while I unironically enjoy me some Hinder, it was rightfully so.