Sound — 7
For many a Staind fan, a good chunk of the Springfield, Massachusetts, band's latest self-titled release is slightly old news. Songs like Not Again and Eyes Wide Open have been making the airplay rounds for several months now, but it's never a terrible thing to create an early buzz. What you might have noticed upon hearing any of Staind's seventh studio album is that it's a fairly big leap away from the many acoustic and/or mellow vibe that has fueled quite a few of their hit songs. That's not to say the album is devoid of mellower offerings, but the aggressive side of frontman Aaron Lewis is displayed prominently this time around. The record kicks off with Eyes Wide Open, which has easily the most intense, spastic vocals of the 10 tracks. Given Lewis' proclivity to do acoustic tours and the like, you do sometimes forget that he has the ability to deliver some in-your-face vocals and that he does in Eyes Wide Open. While his phrasing goes every which way, at the most aggressive they broach Slipknot territory. No less intense is the track Wannabe, which combines a laid-back, cocky rap (with Snoop Dogg making a guest appearance) with an all-out yelling session. That particular song oozes machismo and a general f**k you attitude. At the other end of the spectrum is Falling, which in the beginning moments almost seems like a nod to Alice In Chains in terms of the harmonies and chord progressions. That selection along with Throw It All Away and Something To Remind You are mellower, more emotional tracks that seem more in line with the Staind recordings of the past few years. Peppered throughout are plenty of chugged power chords (Paper Wings) and even some inspired intros (the mechanical yet sleek Now), but the biggest hits if we're looking at the band's history will be the songs that have the most memorable and sing-along-worthy choruses. The album never remains stagnant to be sure, and Staind fans in general should be pleased with the latest songwriting.
Lyrics — 8
The new Staind record, much like on former releases, doesn't shy away from honest, emotional topics. This is an album for someone who isn't afraid to punch a wall in one moment and cry over a lost love in the next. Wannabe thanks to its overall hip-hop vibe does tend to have a cockier approach with lyrics like, I'm selling records what is it that you do; Sitting in your mama's basement with a shiatsu; Peanut butter on your dick. That chest-pounding content is an anomaly, however, and most of the tracks lean toward reflective or passionate moments like the one in Throw It All Away (It doesn't feel like this is over; It's never felt like it's begun; Always looking over my shoulder; Waiting for the end to come). Aaron Lewis does have the ability to sell a wide variety of emotions, and that's what makes the lyrics so effective in the end.
Overall Impression — 8
For rock purists, Staind will deliver the goods this time around. Even though the band does often return to the big, straightforward chorus, the album is full of pretty angry moments and that is pretty refreshing for a band that has so often delved into its sensitive side. The self-titled record isn't necessarily breaking any sort of new ground (nor will it alienate any fans), but it's likeable and certainly has its inspired moments. In the end, even with all the anger injected into the record, it's hard to deny the most memorable and moving track is the stripped-down closing ballad Something To Remind You.