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Life on Display

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Average Rating
★★★½☆
(147 Reviews)

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  • In this day and age, we don’t expect rock and roll bands to reinvent the wheel. As long as they’re competent musicians and songwriters and have maybe a trace of originality, I’m content with that. Which brings me to Puddle Of Mudd.You want to talk about getting a lucky break? Frontman Wes Scantlin approached music industry impresario / reviled Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst with his demo tape, and evidently Durst liked what he heard enough to sign Puddle Of Mudd to his Flawless label. Come Clean came out in 2001, and let’s put it this way – if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then these guys are clearly enamored with Nirvana and Alice In Chains. Musically they pretty much paid homage to these bands throughout the whole album, and went multi-platinum with their derivative sound.Now comes their follow-up effort, Life On Display. Sophomore jinx? If you liked Come Clean, absolutely not – this much is true: They aren’t fixing what isn’t broken, hoping that they’ll hit paydirt once again. I suppose you could call them consistent, and that’s true to a degree. But in all of their mimicry of the Seattle-area rockers, they forgot one important element that was great about those bands – the conviction and depth of the songs themselves. Say what you will about those bands, but they addressed song topics that were seldom covered before – they were a breath of fresh air when radio stations were mostly playing hair-metal bands and their songs boasting about partying and their prowess with the ladies. Puddle Of Mudd’s biggest flaw comes to light when you listen to the lyrics – with only a few exceptions (“Spin You Around”, “Sydney”), they’re all one-dimensional rants about ex-girlfriends that did them wrong., and they’re all written in the banal prose of a high school dropout. The best lyrics can be a window to the writer’s soul, and to that end we are to believe that Scantlin is “drowning in a pool of misery”, that he is “the freak of the world”, and that he’s “gonna sink in the ocean”. Sure Wes, but obviously that’s nothing that wads of cash and an actress girlfriend can’t fix, right? And we haven’t even covered vacuous songs like “Think”, “Spin You Around” (with the irritating chorus “If I saw you dancing / I would spin you around” repeated incessantly), or “Cloud 9″ (“Trash, bash, kill myself, eat a bunch of trash / Trash, bash, get some cash and spend it on some drugs” – yeah, Wes, we can really feel your pain now). Scantlin tries to convince us that he’s a tormented individual, but the lyrics are more likely to induce laughter than sympathy.In summary: An unoriginal band that compounds it with ridiculous lyrics, Puddle Of Mudd are a band that borders on self-parody. They would be tolerable if they spent more time on their songs, but they sold so many albums before using the same lazy approach to songwriting, so why change now? You can do worse than this album, but you can also do far better.

    Posted on January 14, 2010