If it were 2001, Puddle of Mudd's fourth studio release would fit right into the musical landscape. Producers Brian Hawes and John Kurzweg give the tunes real power, amping up the gnarly guitars and bringing out the rasp in Wes Scantlin's vocals. Equally rooted in grunge and nü-metal, the album would play nicely next to the latest offerings from Staind/Linkin Park/Creed. But it's not 2001. So when Scantlin opens the album singing "I got to get this shit off my back" on "Stoned," his angst-ridden lyrics just seem out of touch, even if the tune careens with all the energy of a Foo Fighters number.
Scantlin is on better ground on the insipid but catchy "Spaceship," a pick-up tune that at least suggests a sense of humor. But rote rockers such as "Out of My Way," "Blood on the Table" and "Hooky," a tune that — and we're not making this up — his 12-year-old son wrote about how he'd rather stay home and masturbate than go to school, have little going for them. Give Puddle of Mudd this much credit — while they appeared to be a one-hit blunder when "Blurry," from their 2001 debut Come Clean, became a huge hit, they've proved far more resilient. But then we are living at a time when irrelevant acts like Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilots continue to tour and record. — Jeff Niesel