It is not cool to like Limp Bizkit. They are the practitioners of a style of music that went out of favour barely a few years after it got going. Nu Metal, as it was known then was characterised as being the music of obnoxious frat boys, the curators of “Bro” culture, a juvenile mess that in place of style, subtlety and innovation had gimmicks, shouting and toilet humour. Limp Bizkit were the architects of this blueprint. So it is not cool to like Limp Bizkit. Nor is it cool to buy any of their albums, go to any of their gigs, or sing along to their lyrics in public. Only a small handful of people who never cared about their reputations as music critics have ever engaged in such foolish activity.
I am one such person.
And no this isn’t just when I was a 13 year old school kid loving “Hot Dog” because it proudly boasted of its infamous “46 fucks” or finding out what Chocolate starfish meant. Last year on the 29th of August 2010 I started shouting, jumping and waving my fist in the air in the middle of Reading Festival as The Notorious Red Cap took to the stage. I lost a lot of cred, but I had a hell of a lot of fun. Which is exactly what I had listening to this album.
This is the best thing that Limp Bizkit have done in years. It’s cruder, crasser, heavier, bassier with such a dedication to their sound it makes previous efforts feel like a compromise on attitude. Something which you would ever accuse Fred Durst of.
He is clearly a man who doesn’t give a fuck. Let us look at the evidence: He says it at least twice on every track, he has a song that’s named “Autotunage” in honour of one of the most derided musical styles of this generation, the cover art looks like something you would find on an American Truckers bicep right below the words “No Fat Chicks”, his idea of a romantic gesture to a lady is giving a shout out to her “Hot Tits” and he promises swift, brutal vengeance to any and every single critic out there who dares decry his music in public (Disclaimer: I am not giving this album a positive review because I am scared of being beaten the shit out of).
It’s this uncaring attitude that is also responsible for some of the albums more obscure moments. These would cause most produecers or band mates to think very carefully about the state of mind of the front man. “Douch Bag” ends with evil laughter over the tones of some light jazz while “Shark Attack” leaves us with a Hip Hop outro that reminds me of an 80’s Grand Master Flash. These moments rather than detract from the focus of the album, keeps us guessing, keeps us wondering what moment of madness waits round the corner. It fleshes the album out, stops it becoming one note or boring. It also reminds us that Limp Bizkit aren’t just a bunch of punk kids who are running on the luck they got in the late 90’s. They are serious musicians with a wide range of knowledge and ability. Mind you, just listening to two minutes of Wes Borland’s certifiably insane guitar work should have done that.
But just when you think that Limp Bizkit have nothing left to surprize you with, just when you think you can figure them out, the end of the album has an even bigger surprize for you. The calm after the storm. I’ve herad them do quiet before, (usually as a preface to an ear shattering drop), but this time is different. This is subtle, introspective and dare I say it? A little bit mature. “My Own Cobain” is a rare moment of vulnerability, free of the usual display of open agression to the source of his insecurity, while “Angels” feels like it was written by another band altogether.
But the best thing about this album is how it made me feel. It made me feel younger. It took me back to the moments in my adolescence when I was justa crazy kid going mental in a mosh pit. I didn’t have a job or a social standing or peers for me to worry about the opinions of. I was just 13 years old without a care in the world.
The album goes back, reminding you of past greatness. When “Shark Attack” starts out, you could swear “Break Stuff” was about to play or when he sings “Nookie” to an autotuner (a very interesting experience). But the great thing is, these moments aren’t used as a crutch. They aren’t used, as some bands might, to remind fans of past brilliance because of a lack of it in the present. They use it to say “You liked that? Well listen to this Mother Fuckers.” The Nu-Metal equivalent of “You ain’t heard nothin’ yet.” And that’s what makes this such a good album. It does that very rare thing of reminding you of the past while making you glad that you live in the present.
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