Sound — 7
Brett Scallions left Fuel in 2006 for reasons that were never made public, and then soon after the band recorded one more album then went on an extended hiatus, or they disbanded, depending on the source you check. In the meantime, Brett decided to start using the Fuel moniker again and recruited new musicians to tour with starting in 2010, and finally got around to recording a new album. Gotta give Brett his props, though, as he did address the issue with the lineup in a fairly straightforward manner, basically saying in multiple interviews that there can ever only be one original lineup and there have been changes to the lineup for years and he isn't trying to recapture that or diminish the original lineup - he basically just wants to continue making music, thus we get a new Fuel album. Two songs were released before the album. "Yeah!" was released in December 2013 as an album "teaser," and free to download. The first single from the album was "Soul to Preach To," which was released in January 2014. The album contains 10 tracks with an approximate runtime of just a little over 40 minutes.
The album starts out with the track "Yeah!," which has a kind of blues rock "romp" feel to it, though the blues is more subtle. "Soul to Preach To" has a little bit more going on in the way of a more interesting main riff, a more interesting bass line, and some more thought out use of volume dynamics (using that quiet/loud thing really well). "Hey, Mama" kinds of takes what I was saying about "Yeah!" being a blues rock romp, but it does it this time without the blues aspect sounding very subtle. "Time for Me to Stop" is a little bit heavier than the rest of the album has been up to this point, and sounds more like a hard rock party song. "Wander" seems to be more of a slow melancholy, slow foot-tapping track - but there is a slightly built up section, but still a pretty laid back track, even at its heaviest. "Cold Summer" is a riff-centric hard rock song, and is pretty much straight forward with it. "I Can See the Sun" is another song on the album trying to sound lighter, or more laid back, or possibly just more emotional. I just wasn't feeling this track. Next up is "Puppet Strings" which features Robbie Krieger (of The Doors) on the track, and the blues sound is back strong again on this track. The guitar work on "Puppet Strings" is really impressive but the song in itself isn't necessarily memorable. The most interesting guitar solo from the album is definitely the solo from "Puppet Strings," however. "Headache" is another of the heavier songs on the album, which even at its heaviest doesn't seem to have the punch I was waiting for. It isn't a bad song, but this definitely isn't the Fuel of back in the day. "What We Can Never Have" closes the album out, and is an acoustic song which oddly enough is mixed much lower than the rest of the album and I had to pull my volume up when this track started. The song gets a good deal heavier (and louder) going into the last third of the track. All in all, it is a good song to close the album out on, but it could definitely have done without the huge difference in volume. I found myself enjoying the guitar solos on this album. They aren't super fancy, and they're not even extremely memorable - but they are solid and well done in the context of the rock songs they are in.
Lyrics — 6
Brett Scallions was always a respectable hard rock vocalist, and as the blues influences in the band have become more prominent, at times, his vocals have adjusted well to that style. He may never be considered one of the best vocalists in rock music, but he is one of the many competent rock vocalists who approach what they do as a craft. While the vocals are solid, the lyrics seem to be pretty spotty. Some of them are really well written and other passages just seem like they were thrown together. Here is a sample of the lyrics from the track "Yeah!": "I feel a long haired lady in a dress/ send a message streaming right up my back/ this situation means something's up for nothing/ just as long as the rules are made all in advance/ I feel the passion of your actions/ leave me something more here/ if you want it all from me/ just ask me one more time/ I'll say yeah/ here it goes baby." These aren't the best lyrics ever written, and the part about a message "streaming right up" his back makes it sound like he is into some weird stuff.
Overall Impression — 6
I like Robbie Krieger a lot - he is probably on my top ten favorite guitarists - definitely on my top twenty list. I liked what he did on the track, "Puppet Strings." I enjoyed the album in a "background noise" type of way as long as I didn't listen to the lyrics too closely or expect too much from the album. Brett was right to point out that this isn't even remotely the original lineup, because they definitely lost something at some point. My favorite track on the album is "Puppet Strings" because of Robbie Krieger's part, and then my next favorite would have been "What We Can Never Have" if the levels weren't so off. My least favorite track from the album would be "Yeah!". I just couldn't get past the lyrics.