Staind “Break the Cycle” of teen pop

· Jul 3, 2001 Tweet

Teen pop is on its way out. While it will take more than a few angry critics to stop the aggravating movement of emotionally bereft music, record and ticket sales are slowing. This just may be the crushing blow to a movement that has left our culture with a humiliating representation of what musicians are capable of.


With that said, it is important to focus on the present, beginning with New England act Staind and their appropriately titled new disk, Break The Cycle.


The dark, brooding nature of Staind’s music is fueled by the “I-hate-my-parents, I’m-so-lonely” lyrics of singer Aaron Lewis. Staind’s last disc, Dysfunction, was a ten-track fusion of bottom-heavy bass, dirty guitars and tremendous hooks. Staind guitarist Mike Mushok, with the help of bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit, has been able to tap into the muddy yet catchy hooks that have made those bands into multi-platinum acts. “Dysfunction” was a major breakout for Staind and they subsequently supported the record with a slew of tours and opening slots with Kid Rock, Korn, Limp Bizkit and the Family Values Tour.


Following an elongated hiatus filled with drunken games of Bocce Ball and writers block, Staind has finally returned with their latest disc, Break The Cycle. The disc marks the end of Staind’s life in the shadows of Korn and Limp Bizkit.


Sonically, Break The Cycle is much crisper and brighter than Dysfunction. Aaron Lewis still feels abandoned and still hates his father, but it makes for good music and lyrics.


Break The Cycle kicks off with “Open Your Eyes”, a multi-layered track that features the catchy chorus “What would you do/if it was you/would you take everything/for granted like you do?” The track is a strong opener and represents a new, slightly more mature sound for Staind.


The second track, “Pressure,” makes use of staccato guitars and thick distortion sprinkled with high-pitched octave notes to accentuate guitarist Mike Mushok’s muddy sound. Staind knows the value of a good hook, so “Pressure” has several, including the chorus: “Can’t see through this/too much pressure/drowning in this.” The lyrics here directly reference the frustration and pressure that goes with recording the follow-up to a platinum debut.


“It’s Been A While” may not be the most well written Staind song, but the lyrics have staying power. The track opens uncharacteristically with clean guitars and in-tune rhythms. The chorus explodes with distorted guitars reminiscent of the chorus from “Home,” off Staind’s last disc. Singer Aaron Lewis sings with conviction: “It’s been a while/since I could hold my head high/since I first saw you/since I could stand on my own two feet again.” The pulsing rhythms and bottom-heavy riffs here propel Lewis’ deep voice and the track is a standout on Break The Cycle, so much so that the song is reprised in acoustic format at the end of the record.


Of course, it would be foolish to contemplate Break The Cycle without touching on the song that pushed Staind from a popular rock act to the top of the charts, putting them into the realm of Korn and Limp Bizkit. “Outside,” originally an acoustic jam between Lewis and Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst for the Family Values Tour, is revisited in a heavier format on Break the Cycle. The familiar chime of acoustic guitars kick off the song with soft fingerpicking in the background before the drums and bass join in. Lewis’ honest, somber lyrics push the song with lines like “and you/ bring me to my knees/ again all the times/ I had to beg you please,” and the familiar chorus is pushed forward by distorted guitars and the snap of the drums.


Breaking the Cycle is a notice that Staind have stepped out on their own. The music is strong, the future is bright and Staind are poised to join their peers in helping facilitate the downfall of teen pop.

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This article was published Jul 3, 2001 at 12:00 pm and last updated Jul 3, 2001 at 12:00 pm

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