Sound — 10
Man does this record RAWK!!! From piano samples to the hard hitting guitar intros Fuel is known for to the soaring power ballads as well as some new stuff thrown in "Natural Selection" is by far the best record of 2003. Carl Bell said in an interview that he became a "mad scientist" when writing for this record, experimenting with and refining Fuel's sound and these experiments have paid dividends in an absolutely amazing record. The rock track "Quarter" leads off, snatching the listener with its visceral guitar riffs and brooding lyrics while ballads like "Falls on Me" and "Die Like This" are sure hits. However when the record becomes more experimental is when the record truly starts to shine. The track "These Things" is a sonic masterpiece with reverbing guitars and samples, "Running Away" with its string intro and unique guitars is one of the album's best, but "Most of All", a melody-driven power chord jaunt is by far the record's best, probably the catchiest Fuel song since "Shimmer". Great sounding record.
Lyrics — 8
As usual, Carl Bell explores the depths of love lost and various negative love issues but also dabbles into infidelity in "Running Away", loneliness and depression in "Quarter" and "These Things" while Brett Scallions provides the most creative lyrics on the record in "Luck". Overall, I would think that by now Bell would write about more than just the typical issues he's written about in records past but hey, go with what you know right?
Overall Impression — 10
Best of the year. Sonically and musically, it is tightly produced and well recorded. Way to go Fuel!!!