3 Doors Down – Time Of My Life (2011)

Posted: July 13, 2011 in Music

Things seem to have come way too easy for American rockers 3 Doors Down. Since their arrival on the scene in 2000, the band has charted four multi-platinum albums and a vault’s worth of hit singles along the way. Songs such as “Kryptonite,” “When I’m Gone,” “Away from the Sun,” “Loser,” “It’s Not My Time” and “Duck and Run.” have lined the band’s pockets and saturated the airwaves for the last ten years. Playing a form of post-grunge/alt-rock, the band has owned the globe alongside acts such as Hinder, Nickelback (who somehow gets a lot of ink around here), Alter Bridge and Shinedown.

It became the “hot” sound that labels are gobbling up and radio bends over for. It’s edgier than pop, and not as scary as heavy metal – and not too long ago it was actually fresh.

But here we are in 2011, and the musical landscape is again due for an overhaul. There are too many clones of this sound popping up, and frankly, it has played itself out. Even a Creed reunion fell flat last year – which to me signaled an end to this watered-down rock. And I think I may have been right…

Even so, I couldn’t be blind to a new release from one of the more revered bands of the scene. Sometimes you have to finish the spinach before you get the dessert, so with that in mind, we gave the band’s “guaranteed-to-go-platinum” fifth release Time Of My Life a spin. You never know when a band is going to take it to the next level.

The album starts off strong with the powerful, loud title track. Sugar-coated guitars and vocals gave immediate promise to the set, and I was impressed enough to turn it up a little. I was glad I did when the second track “When You’re Young” came on. This track has actually been on radio for a good few months now, and went straight to the top of the rock singles chart with good reason. I’m a sucker for good lyrics, and Brad Arnold has always been sharp with his writing. This selection is proof that he still has his chops, and the disc was off to a very good start.

“Round and Round,” the album’s third track kept the heavy groove flowing. It feels to me like 3 Doors Down have mostly abandoned the post-grunge style for something a little more in line with hard rock or AOR – and it’s a good fit. I’ve always felt the band sounded a bit better on their heavier tracks, and it has come full circle here. That said, the lyrics were really nothing special here. Too bad. This had a chance to be a VERY strong single, but the lack of depth has it taking a step backwards.

“Heaven” was next, and the wolf in sheep’s clothing is loose. Is this a ballad? Is it a rocker? Hard to tell – but what I can tell you is that it’s nothing more than parts of lyrics and structure disassembled from their “hit machine” and reassembled. It’s mildly shameful, but considering it was the first “uh-oh” of the album, I decided to let it slide.

The fifth track, “Race For The Sun” had an interesting tempo as well as a different all-around sound to it – something I hadn’t heard from the band before. It’s not the heaviest track on the album, but the complexity of it all might just make it the strongest.

“Back to Me” is the first true ballad of the album, and it was completely non-compelling and bleached. Every album these days has this song. It’s a hard-luck tale of love, made-for-radio regurgitation, and I can’t stomach any more of them. I completely lost interest after the bridge, but don’t worry – you’ll hear it at your next wedding or senior prom you attend without a doubt.

The opening riff of “Everytime You Go” perked me back up a bit, but it didn’t take long to notice the obvious intent to write another hit here. It’s a little heavier across the board, but it just didn’t grab me as very sincere. You’ll bob your head and dig the music, but in the end, it’s another empty track with lost potential. Seems to be a trend all of a sudden…

“What’s Left” (or, “Heaven: Part II, as I like to refer to it) is another boring ballad/rock trade-off that proves the band has gotten a bit lazy. It’s just too similar to other tracks to be considered genuine, and it lends itself far too close to modern country for my liking – which of course will send it to the top of the charts.

Three strikes in a row usually leads to the end of any listening experience in my world, but I figured we were close enough to the end to hold out for any sort of redemption, so I carried forth – even if it was against my better judgment.

“On The Run” renewed a bit of interest, as the tempo picked up again, and the lyrics were leaps and bounds above the last three tracks. The guitar work of Matt Roberts and Chris Henderson is noticeably better here. The song won’t make it to radio, which earns it the award of my favorite track of the album.

The next track “She Is Love” got about 10 seconds. Sorry. I’m done with the love songs on this album. Another review might give you some insight to this track, but you’re not getting it here. Next.

“My Way” is yet another welcome rocker that thumps with grand vocals and fitting guitar hooks. Drummer Greg Upchurch gets his opportunity to carry a song, and gets passing grades along the way. There’s enough production here to file down the claws a bit, but this one had some scratch. A little raw, a little gritty, and a decent salvation to the second half of this album.

The closer “Believer” continues the rock energy of the previous track, but doesn’t come across nearly as strong. The needle is on the “heavy” side of the gauge, but the lyrics just seem a bit out of place, as they center around the l-word again. It beats having to listen to another ballad, but seemed a bit too predictable for an album closer. What I didn’t see coming was the interesting “ruined cassette” sound that closed the track. For an album that was so radio-dedicated, it seemed like an odd way to end, but I’m all for it. Sure, it’s a studio trick, but it showed that these guys might just still have an edge to them.

And that “edge” just might be their saving grace. Time Of My Life had its strong points along the way, but just far too much – for lack of a better term – bullshit. If I want radio rock, I’ll listen to Journey – who does it better. 3 Doors Down are at their best being loud, abrasive, and smart. They have all the talent in the world, and while this album wasn’t necessarily a wasted effort – it could have been much better. It didn’t quite feel like they took that big step forward this album, but it does appear that they have at least put on the boots and laced up. Time will tell…

6/10

Tracklist:
01 – Time Of My Life
02 – When You’re Young
03 – Round And Round
04 – Heaven
05 – Race For The Sun
06 – Back To Me
07 – Every Time You Go
08 – What’s Left
09 – On The Run
10 – She Is Love
11 – My Way
12 – Believer

http://www.amazon.com/Time-My-Life-Doors-Down/dp/B00518HBD0/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1310618717&sr=8-4

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