Let’s play “Fun With Lyrics,” shall we?
“And if you chose to walk away, I’d still be right here waiting.”
“Wherever you go, whatever you do, I will be right here waiting for you.”
One of those lines is from “hard rocking” Massachusetts quartet Staind. The
other one is from wuss pop wunderkind Richard Marx. This begs the question: does
Staind actually rock? They may be pounding out bone crushing guitar riffs, but
the lyrics are exercises in self-pity, oozing with stories of loathing,
co-dependency, and insecurity. Are they truly sensitive, brutally honest
rockers, or are they Richard Marxes in disguise? And does the world really need
a hard rock Richard Marx?
To its credit, Chapter V, Staind’s new album, isn’t terrible. “Right
Here,” the song quoted above (it was the first lyric, in case you weren’t able
to tell which one was which), has a pretty melody pinned underneath its
thunderous wall of sound. Likewise, leadoff track “Run Away” has a nifty guitar
riff that pops up just before yet another thunderous wall of sound. There are
some ideas in here, though there’s almost no range whatsoever to them; the band
rarely changes gears, and by the time you get to “King of All Excuses,” you’re
positive the disc ended with the previous song and has started from the
And then there’s the matter of the lyrics, those artificially heavy, dopey ass
lyrics. Here’s the 12-step wisdom they depart in “Falling”: “Falling is easy,
it’s getting back up that becomes the problem / If you don’t believe you can
find a way out, you become the problem.” If Dr. Phil ever hosted a late
night show, Staind would be the perfect house band. The worst part is that
singer Aaron Lewis, still doing that Vedder/Stapp thing way past its prime,
doesn’t seem to be taking any of his own advice. Three years ago, Staind made an
album called Break the Cycle, which was supposed to be about him getting
his life in order. He’s seemingly done that, with a wife and a couple kids. And
yet, here he is, still wailing about how lonely, confused and unloved he is.
You’re not fooling anyone, you know.
Chapter V is chock full o’ punishing drum riffs and sub-Metallica guitar
licks, but it ain’t rock. These are ballads, each and every one of them. Sad,
self-pitying, ‘hey, cheer up, bucko’ ballads. Ten years from now, people will
look at albums like Chapter V (and quite possibly Linkin Park’s Hybrid
Theory), associate them with a difficult period in their lives that these
songs helped them through, and never listen to them again. Then, and only then,
will the cycle truly be broken.