Review: Puddle Of Mudd – ‘Volume 4′

Posted: Janury 29th, 2010
Contributed By: Nick

Puddle of Mudd - Volume 2 Purchase @ iTunes
Release Date: December 8th, 2009 via Geffen
Produced by Brian Howes, John Kurzweg, and Brian Virtue

Puddle of Mudd is:
Wes Scantlin (Vocals/Guitar)
Paul Phillips (Guitar)
Doug Ardito (Bass)
Ryan Yerdon (Drums)

Knowledge: Saved from possible obscurity by their rock mega-hit of 2008 “Psycho” and reunited with guitarist Paul Phillips, Puddle of Mudd return strapped with ‘Volume 4‘, arguably the best record they’ve put out since their debut ‘Come Clean‘ in 2001.

Turn-Ons: Puddle of Mudd joins the company Fort Sumter and Bobby Thomson, having produced their own shot heard ’round the world with “Stoned”. A scorching, ballsy declaration backed by a rhythm section that absolutely donkey punches, “Stoned” automatically becomes royalty in Puddle of Mudd’s song catalogue. Ironically enough, the caress of the harmonies underpinning the song’s pre-chorus really earns “Stoned” its stripes. The incessant rolling groove of lead single “Spaceship” makes it a toughie to skip. Doug Ardito enhances an already dangerous hook through tasteful word painting, while the dynamics of the first versus the second pre-choruses provide “Spaceship” with serious depth. “Keep It Together” is likely the intended radio darling of ‘Volume 4‘; luckily for the masses, “Keep It Together” is actually quite memorable. The distinct delivery of the tune’s hook will ultimately spare “Keep It Together” from falling by the wayside. Puddle of Mudd serve up a savory dose of pseudo stoner pop-rock with “Out of My Way”, boasting explosive choruses fashioned similar to something from Silverchair’s ‘Frogstomp‘. “Out of My Way” goes out of its way to create a shimmering, Arabian-flavored bridge that fans of Boyhitscar’s eponymous debut will certainly appreciate. The brooding, hustling “Blood on the Table” throbs with mood and ambiance, largely thanks scratch and claw of Wes Scantlin’s scathing, yet impressive vocal performance. “Blood on the Table” flaunts a dope and deceptive finale, sharply cutting out where normally you would expect an epic power chord sustain-genius. Puddle of Mudd are smart to reheat the ‘Famous‘ leftover “The Only Reason” for ‘Volume 4‘, realizing the obvious potential of this slinky number. Drummer Josh Freese artfully creates a more active pulse for “The Only Reason” by schooling you on the art of ghost note dynamics on a loosey-goosey, wet snare drum. There’s not a thing about “Pitchin’ a Fit” that sucks. Most importantly, “Pitchin’ a Fit” got back baby! A roaring pummel cut with one juicy ass groove, “Pitchin’ a Fit” is an uninhibited riot waiting for you to turn it up and get ridic. “Uno Mas” is just one more example of the resurgent energy racing through Puddle of Mudd’s veins. The casual delivery of the tune’s pre’s frames the volcanic chorus well. Chockfull of fleeting Southern rock glances, “Uno Mas” indiscriminately smacks you around from start to finish. Bassists will lust over the live bass sound captured on “Better Place”, supplementing this authentic and sincere ballad with added warmth and body. Puddle of Mudd get savvy with “Better Place”, specifically the crafty way in which the band transitions into the third chorus. ‘Volume 4‘ culminates with the fun for everyone “Hooky”. As aesthetically unappealing as “Hooky” might seem, Puddle of Mudd roll with the vibe and embrace the cheese, rather than wasting the final 3 minutes of the record trying to prove a point or outdo themselves.

Turn-Offs: I absolutely cannot stand how indifferent Wes Scantlin’s delivery can be sometimes, as the apathetic “yeah, yeah, yeah” croon introducing “Spaceship” pays testament. What’s even more surprising to me is that the song’s producer Brian Howes, a vocal virtuoso in his own right would even allow this type of lethargic “singing” on his recordings. The only reason why “The Only Reason” will not be able to make an impact on rock radio is the incapability of the song’s hook to really hit and stick. “Better Place” will get on your nerves ASAP; you have the screeching caterwaul of Mr. Scantlin to thank for that.

King: “Stoned”

Queen: “Pitchin’ a Fit”

FAIL: “Better Place”

Cool Points: I guess you gotta chuckle at the end of “Stoned” as Scantlin and god knows who else unabashedly take bong rips of some sticky Vancouver pride. If I’m Puddle of Mudd, I’m thinkin’ that I’d rather be stoned around the clock, especially if the result is more songs that turn out like “Stoned”. In case you missed his name earlier in the review, Josh Freese plays drums on several ‘Volume 4‘ songs. If you’re a drummer that name alone should be enough to warrant your purchasing this record. Take a listen to the dynamic rests and accents heightening the tail end of “Spaceship” or the colorful fill on the final chorus of “The Only Reason” if you need convincing. The lead guitar part of “Keep It Together” is heavily reminiscent of Fuel’s “Hemorrhage”, a subtle toast to a super tune. When the ghoulish whispers kick in following the first chorus of “Blood on the Table”, the sound and feeling of listening to ‘Around the Fur’ sets in for a brief but blissful taste of the past. Out of all two songs in recent memory to outspokenly advocate truancy, Puddle of Mudd’s “Hooky” annihilates the tragedy that is “I Don’t Wanna Go To School” by The Naked Brothers Band. If you’re not sold on “Hooky”, go give the Naked Bros. disaster a spin then try “Hooky”-you’ll think Puddle of Mudd saved your life.

Moral of the Story:Volume 4‘ is the Puddle of Mudd I remember and the Puddle of Mudd you’ll want to remember. But in the case of Puddle of Mudd, ‘Volume 4‘ will ultimately go down as the band’s second most important release. While Puddle of Mudd might never be able to recapture the sales figures and crossover success of ‘Come Clean‘, they have concocted a record that finally makes the generalized comparisons of Puddle of Mudd/Wes Scantlin to Nirvana/Kurt Cobain seem legit. Yeah, how ’bout them apples? This is good stuff, kudos to PoM on an excellent recording.

TuneLab Rating: 9 out of 10