Release Date: September 13th, 2011
Reviewed by Evelyn Miska Krieger
There are some bands that make it clear why they’ve been around for so long, with success after success, it makes it easy to understand. For Staind, figuring this question out takes a bit more work. Their self-titled seventh studio album almost caused the band to self-destruct and, just maybe, that would have been welcome. While Staind falls into a lot of people’s guilty pleasure category, their eponymous album just doesn’t make the grade. In an attempt to keep things on the hardcore side of things, the band increased the roaring on the vocals but, in the process of this, lost all focus on writing decent lyrics. With songs full of cliches, Staind, just doesn’t have enough going for it to even get it into the guilty pleasure list.
“Eyes Wide Open” immediately brings in the roared lyrics, though, to be fair, the style isn’t overused in the song. The catchy, melodic chorus shows off what Staind does well and the song builds up to a decent climax with some good guitar work. While it isn’t anything too unusual, it still manages to be one of the better tracks on the album. The cheese factor begins pretty quickly, however, with some of the lyrics on “Not Again.” Lines such as “the clock fails to sleep” give hints of the cringe-worthy lyrics to come on later tracks. However, the song is salvaged by a good guitar solo about two thirds of the way through.
The lame similes begin to abound in “Falling,” a more ballad inspired song. The song is packed with lines such as “like a bruise that doesn’t fade” and “like a cut without the pain” which makes one wonder how much time the band actually spent writing lyrics, or if they just grabbed a high school English writing handbook and looked up the entry on similes for examples. The worst of the worst probably is “Wannabe” with its attempt at rap on the verses and truly dreadful lyrics including “you’re nothing but a wannabe, so easy when you’re faceless, why don’t you focus on your misery instead of focusing on me.” Hard to say what encouraged this much virulence from the band, but perhaps it’s aimed at critics that don’t like the album. Either way, it is difficult to see why on Earth the band felt that ending the song with the defiantly delivered, “What is it that you do? We’re selling records!” was a good idea. The mind reels.
By the time the album gets to “The Bottom” all the tracks are beginning to meld together with the same general sound, tempo, key and approach. “Take A Breath” has the standard Staind chorus and has a bit of that radio-friendly sound, but it isn’t going to be a standout. The last three songs bring listeners back to some truly dreadful lyrics. “Now” has a guitar riff that manages to keep things somewhat interesting which is good when the song also has lyrics such as “when you come to a fork in the road you can almost taste it.” In “Paper Wings” the line “I can’t go on like this, not even one more day” is roared repeatedly, and some listeners just might feel the same way by the time they make it to the end of this album. Thankfully, the album does end with “Something To Remind You” which at least makes a change from the format of the other songs. Yes, it’s leaning more towards the ballad side of things, but that’s still a change of pace. Unfortunately, the quality of the writing doesn’t increase and it’s almost as if the band gave up and just started looking up proverbs and twisting them into lyrics. “The road to hell along the way, is paved with good intentions, so they say” and “Some believe that no good deed goes unpunished in the end” might just be apt sayings for the band to consider after making this album.
Making an album has to be incredibly difficult and becomes even more so when band tension increases to the point where the various parts are recorded individually so the members don’t have to interact. However, that still is no excuse for plunking trite sayings onto paper and considering them lyrics. Staind might have been through some rough patches in making this album, but they shouldn’t take that out on their fans.