This album sold 3 million copies in the US. And though it didn’t do as well anywhere else, it still went platinum in a few other English-speaking countries. And it produced multiple hit singles. Why?
Apparently, in 2001/2002 we were still very much under the emotional pull of grunge, which broke nearly a decade earlier. This album sounds out-of-step with basically all the music from 2001 that I’m listening to this year; it honestly sounds like it belongs to 1996. (Only it sounds better.)
People who grew up with grunge were apparently not ready to forget it. (I have a harder time believing young people bought this, but I have not seen data. I would bet this album was purchased by Gen X more than anyone else.) Anything might do, including a really poor facsimile.
Like all post grunge, this is grunge in sound but not in content. At it’s loudest it’s louder than most post grunge and as loud as some of the louder grunge (though hardly the loudest). And Scantlin has figured out how to sing like a grunge singer. (He mercifully doesn’t sound like Eddie Vedder but he sometimes sounds like a more conventional Layne Staley, which isn’t much better.)
But, as with every post grunge band – the reason the genre is called “post grunge” not “neo grunge” – they apparently missed the message of grunge. The band is making rock music with no edge: there’s distortion but it’s actually clean, there are clean backing vocals, everything is immaculately produced and I can hear everything perfectly. And there is zero artsiness to it. It’s just big dumb rock.
Which brings me to the lyrics. Like every other post grunge lyricist, Scantlin is singing about himself, not about the world or other people. Like every other post grunge lyricist he listened to the grunge singers and thought “I like how they sing but I really don’t like what they sing about. Wouldn’t it be better if I just complained about my life?” (Occasionally it’s to tell us how wise they are instead, see Live and Creed.)
So their songs came on the radio and they were catchy enough and a bunch of people who remembered grunge from when they were a bit younger – but clearly weren’t paying attention – thought “Hey, this sounds like [insert grunge band here]” and went out and bought it. And it happened enough times that somehow this went 3 times platinum in the States.
Yet another reminder people have terrible taste.