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Puddle of Mudd – As Horrible as You’d Expect

Posted by March 15th, 2004 No Comments »

Puddle of Mudd
Life on Display (or “Emperor Scantlin’s New Clothes”)
By Wes Hiserman

I won’t even attempt an unbiased opinion here. I went into this review with full knowledge it was close to impossible for Puddle of Mudd to come out on top. This is because there are some cases where historical significance is more important than the sound of an album. There are cases where ethical content supersedes aesthetic, and this might have been one of them.

Luckily, I don’t have to worry about an inner conflict. Life on Display‘s music is third-rate meaningless garbage. Lyrics that could’ve been written by any sixth grader across the country are covered with sloppy, recycled, wannabe grunge riffs. Stop and bask in that idea for a second. Wannabe grunge? That’s like fantasizing about living in a third world country.

Puddle of Mudd
Life on Display (or “Emperor Scantlin’s New Clothes”)
By Wes Hiserman

I won’t even attempt an unbiased opinion here. I went into this review with full knowledge it was close to impossible for Puddle of Mudd to come out on top. This is because there are some cases where historical significance is more important than the sound of an album. There are cases where ethical content supersedes aesthetic, and this might have been one of them.

Luckily, I don’t have to worry about an inner conflict. Life on Display‘s music is third-rate meaningless garbage. Lyrics that could’ve been written by any sixth grader across the country are covered with sloppy, recycled, wannabe grunge riffs. Stop and bask in that idea for a second. Wannabe grunge? That’s like fantasizing about living in a third world country.

This is the important aspect of this album. Not so much what it sounds like (crap), but what it MEANS, what it SIGNIFIES. There are almost no truly evil people in the music business. Notable exceptions are the band Angry Aryans and almost every CEO at ClearChannel, but certainly not the fellows in POM. They, like so many others, are just victims of a huge, twisted machine that has warped their minds to believe obvious lies like the absurd reality premise they cling to. That’s what grunge was, as you probably remember. Grunge was a grassroots response to fake corporate gimmicks and formulaic pop. Ironic that POM is exactly what their chosen genre stood against.

I feel very frightened that I may be the only journalist who remembers that Puddle of Mudd did not simply form, like most bands. If a band breaks up and one member is hired by the owner of a record label, in this case Fred Durst, to get together with a group of other musicians also hired from across the country and form a band, does that mean the original band has reformed and fought its way to the top? Of course not, especially not in an industry where a label has to pay thousands of dollars to middlemen and radio stations to get a radio hit. Still, simple logic like that seems to have been completely overlooked by so many writers in the interest of giving a good review.

This sloppily put together charade seems to exist only to ridicule the music community and comfort the band by warring with their obvious insecurities. Puddle of Mudd’s premise stands directly opposed to their entire existence. “I’m on the run from the system,” POM’s Wesley Scantlin yells with an imitation Kurt Cobain drone on “Already Gone.” “I’m a freak/freak of the world,” he croons in a sloppy Chris Cornell impression on “Freak of The World.” Pretty awkward statements by someone whose band was created by a CEO. In one publication, the band said their album was recorded with four takes per song, a statement that forms a lovely little image of a band rolling up their sleeves to capture their love of playing together. Later, it was revealed on the movie included in Life on Display that while there may have been four takes per song, each instrument was recorded at a different studio. The album’s cover is a collage of superficially gritty retro-wash imagery painstakingly forged with expensive digital technology. The band themselves seem to have no concept of their place in the music industry, flaunting a good ol’ American boy image wherever they go.

It’s a routine occurrence for starry-eyed, unoriginal musicians to be scooped up and taken advantage of by the beast that is corporate music, but very few times has it been so obvious and garish. Puddle of Mudd is a farce of themselves, and I doubt they have any idea that many of us have figured this out.

Truly, these are people who just want to play music; who can blame them for doing it at the expense of personal integrity and musical value? Who would take such an easy swipe at them, just in the hope they get exposed and dumped to make space for real talent? Who could possibly kick the infant that is Scantlin’s lyrics so rudely? We all can, if we just pay attention. – (2/10)


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