Review Summary: Such self-deprecation is no longer fun
I want to begin this review with a confession – I like Theory of a Deadman. And immediately I feel I need to clarify that the statement only covers the period which includes Gasoline
and Scars & Souvenirs
. Don’t waste your breath pointing out how derivative, commercially oriented and backward they are in the grand scheme of things. Believe me, I perfectly realize the fact. Their melodies are simple, the lyrics do not suffer from any semblance of intellectualism, and their hooks fully cater to the undemanding mainstream tastes. Then why am I not among those that are quick to bad-mouth the band? The reason is very simple and, dare I say, typical for this kind of story. My warm and forgiving feelings towards the two albums I mentioned earlier are directly connected to the events happening in my life around the time of their respective release.
Back then I was very unassuming in my musical preferences. I listened to the albums of the then Canadian juggernaut Nickelback
(yeah, go ahead and boot me out). I didn’t have a large CD collection, so Silver Side Up
, The Long Road
and All the Right Reasons
frequently rotated in my player. When I eventually got access to the Internet, I started to expand, adding to the list 3 Doors Down
and Three Days Grace
. Understandably, when I tumbled upon Theory of a Deadman, their sound fit right in. (Also, back then I could not understand comparisons to Nickelback; although, to be fair, Theory’s debut was a severe case of Nickelback-itis.)
There were many things I appreciated. First and foremost, I liked that, unlike their contemporaries, these Canadians knew how to crack a smile and joke around, regardless whether its about themselves or others. And, what’s more important, it felt sincere. While others favored serious faces and darker emotions, Theory were not that fast to dive into desperation. On the contrary, they could goof off. The sentiments and thoughts Tyler Connelly sang about in I Hate My Life
were something I could fathom. Not all of them, but something similar would crawl into my mind. Such songs as Santa Monica
and Say Goodbye
elicited emotional response, because I listened to them when I was going through unrequited feelings and corresponding emotions. You can blame Little Smirk
for misogynistic concepts all you want, but when the album released I was going through a very hard breakup with my girlfriend. Considering the root cause for the breakup the things the character in the song wanted to do, it was something I could get behind back then (although some of the things suggested did go a bit overboard). So Happy
, Not Meant to Be
and Bad Girlfriend
are obvious and trite songs, yet they were crystal clear on the emotional level.
However, starting with The Truth Is…
, this emotional connection started to thin. I listened to more varied music, I was getting more mature (and, yeah, older), both in my thinking and feelings. And Theory of a Deadman remained at the same degree of maturity. Their music and lyrics sounded more and more fabricated. Some of the messages I no longer shared, and they actually felt out of character for the Canadian band. They lost their connection with me as a member of the audience. I did listen to the subsequent releases as they were coming out, mostly by force of habit, yet there was no chance of us reconnecting. To be fair, they did try to shake up their formula, shedding the hard rock leanings and leaving the cliched pop sound that was there from the beginning. It changed nothing for me (although, I kind of enjoyed Rx (Medicate)
, it was quite solid).
And the recently released Dinosaur
demonstrated once again that the band are just like that prehistoric animal they named the album after. They not longer possess the single speck of originality I found most endearing long time ago, and gained nothing in its stead. They presented another slab of mainstream modern rock – yes, they uncovered guitars again, – that simply fails to hook you in. The lyrics are insignificant, and, while apparently aiming for something more substantial, leave you empty. It only makes you wonder what the band counted on and what sort of audience they try to reach. I am no longer a part of it. Sorry, fellas, we travel different roads today.