Sound — 7
There has to be an amazing amount of pressure for a band like 3 Doors Down to deliver another hit like Kryptonite. After all, that one single was the turning point that led the band into multiplatinum success. They've done pretty well for themselves by never straying too far from their original style, and with their latest self-titled record we're getting another helping of that familiar sound. There has always been a mellowness to 3 Doors Down, but this time around there seems an excessive amount of balladic moments and not enough catchy hooks.
You might get the impression from the first track Train that 3 Doors Down is venturing into more aggressive, rock territory. It's true that Train is an incredible track, complete with a gritty, low guitar and some incredible riff work from Matt Roberts and Chris Henderson. Vocalist Brad Arnold has more of bluesy style in this track and it definitely compliments him. As openers go, the band couldn't have picked a better one to get your attention. Unfortunately, the rock vibe is short-lived and Train is as hard as it gets.
The first single off the album, Citizen/Soldier, is the other track that shines on the record, with a synth-heavy intro that eventually transitions into a low-key guitar line. There obviously was time and thought put into writing the intro between the New Age-type feel (yes, New Age) and interesting percussion, and the rock-oriented chorus is fairly memorable in it's own way as well. The first two tracks stray from the usual 3 Doors Down sound, and it was actually refreshing to hear them go in unexpected directions. By the third track things start getting more familiar, however.
With songs like Let Me Be Myself and Not My Time, you just immediately know that the radio will love the fact that they are the typical 3 Doors Down fare. There are quite a few low-key, power chord rock tracks, with a handful of quiet ballads in between. They aren't bad songs by any means, but they have a tendency to blend together and don't make the impression that Kryptonite did way back in the day.
Lyrics — 8
3 Doors Down takes a patriotic turn on the new album with the track Citizen/Soldier. Apparently this was released in conjunction with a National Guard recruitment campaign, and that might turn some people off out there. The lyrics aren't as blatant as you might think, and there's a positive tone to it all. Arnold sings, On that day when you need your brothers and sisters to care; I'll be right here; Citizen soldiers holding the light for the ones that we guide from the dark of despair. At the other end of the spectrum are several ballads that aim straight for the heart. I will give 3 Doors Down credit for not writing the usual cheesy love lyrics, instead delivering thought-provoking, introspective ideas.
Overall Impression — 7
It's hard to get excited about tracks that just don't go to many new places. The first few tracks on the self-titled record indicate that the rest of the playlist might be a completely new venture for the band, but it just doesn't pan out that way. With the exception of Train and a few tracks with big choruses, the energy level on the new record is low. There might be electric guitars used in every track, but the tempo often lags. That wouldn't be such a horrible thing if we didn't hear the incredible potential the band has for creating edgy, straight-up rock tracks like Train.