The internet is a funny thing. You’d think that people want to hear the music their favourite bands want to release, as opposed to things their favourite bands haven’t finished. But alas, that’s not how most people think. Most people just want, want, want.
And I can’t help but think that some of the people panning Steal this Album! were some of the people who downloaded the leaked unfinished tracks that provoked the album’s release. Why couldn’t they just wait until the next album? Most bands release a rarities comp at some point in their career, and the vast majority of rarities comps are disappointing – exceptions being things like the Beatles’ Anthology series and the Who’s Odds and Sods – for a very good reason: the band decided at the time that the music was sub-par. Usually, though not always, they should know.
So holding this knee-jerk rarities collection to a standard set for albums thought-out years in advance seems really really silly and inappropriate. (As does rating this album 1/5 for only having a few good songs…what happened to proportion? I can think of lots of albums that have no good songs…what would they get? -1/5?.)
This is definitely not up to the band’s rather high standard, but that’s to be expected. This should be judged as a rarities compilation, if anything. And as such, it is definitely above average. The songs are finished for one thing. Or at least they appear finished. They are a little too obviously demonstrative of their influences: “Chic ‘n’ Stu” sounds so much like Zappa with metal it’s not even funny, even Mr. Bungle disguised it better. And on the whole the lyrics are more obviously not good, though they are still better than most lyrics by most of their nu-metal contemporaries.
Frankly I can’t really see what the problem is. It’s a rarities comp, people. Deal with it.