IT'S HARD TO GET LAID in a sleeveless Maiden T-shirt with sperm count-reducing denims and high-tops whiter than seagull droppings. This has been the plight of the metal head for decades. In the past, metal aficionados languished at home Friday nights, hanging out with Uncle Jessie and the gang on Full House before grabbing the Kleenex and clicking on Cinemax for Young Lady Chatterly.
Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water (Interscope)
But then came Limp Bizkit and their neo-metal brethren, and all of a sudden, girls began to flock to pointy goateed rockers like Star Jones to a bake sale. The whole rap/rock trend may be rather odious, but you have to give the Bizkit boys credit for one thing: They helped metal lose the mullet and hermetic leather pantaloons by incorporating hip-hop chic and swagger into the genre. The fashion-conscious neo-metal lads have loosened metal's drawers, cut that damn hair, and helped land the stray female. Along the way, they've reintroduced metal to the top of the Billboard charts and made it the necessary yin to teen pop's yang in these TRL times.
And at the center of it all is Fred Durst. In three years, Durst has become a millionaire several times over, a record company executive, and a model humper.
So why is he so pissed? On Limp Bizkit's new Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, Durst sounds more put out than Sally Struthers during a Ho-Hos shortage. He drops "fuck" 48 times on the opening cut of the record and, throughout the album, fumes like an exhaust pipe on an 18-wheeler about the shit-talking press and his stable of nefarious bombshells—"problems" that millions of people would delight in having. This over-the-top angst without any real justification renders Durst a parody of himself, a caricature of unwarranted neurosis. The biggest question, then, is why do kids relate to this man? Why do teens identify with an irritable rocker whose greatest dilemma is remembering the name of whatever Playmate he wakes up next to each morning?
It's because Durst's self-absorption is the perfect soundtrack to the Wonder Years 2000, when worlds revolve around how one measures up in the locker room and whether or not their would-be girlfriend's bra is stuffed. Granted Durst's problems are trivial, but he's speaking to an audience whose biggest predicaments are securing the keys to the station wagon on Saturday night and finding a way to get their dates in the back of it. This is not music for people with mortgages, credit-card debt, or bedtimes past 11. Instead, it's a pubescent pressure valve, a way for teens to blow off steam like Whitney Houston does sobriety.
For grown-ups to waste critical vitriol on this band plays right into Durst's hands like "Little Fred" surely did before the fat rock star bank came to obscure his Joe Blow grill. He wants Limp Bizkit to be seen as a musical black sheep to further his cred among disenchanted 14-year-olds. Bizkit's critical shellacking makes them all the more relatable to their audience, as music critics to this band are like the angry moms and dads that scream at their kids to stop lighting their farts—seemingly out of touch parental units ordering them to do something they don't want to: Grow up.
This juvenilia is manifest on Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, from the clumsy sexual references in its title to its expletive overkill. Occasionally, this results in some puerile thrills. On the pile-driving "Full Nelson," Wes Borland's slobbering, discordant guitar invokes the spirit of Page Hamilton in the sadly deceased Helmet, while "Hotdog" is heavier than Rosie O' Donnell juggling bricks.
But when the band attempts to broaden their narrow bandwidth by incorporating more melody and restraint, they meet with mixed results. Listening to Durst whinny on "My Way" is akin to shoving one's genitals into a mulcher, while his duet with Scott Weiland on "Hold On" is as flaccid as Bob Dole jonesing for a Viagra fix.
Meanwhile, the Swizz Beatz-produced "Rollin' (Urban Assault Vehicle)" is a cluttered affair as overlong as John Holmes' manhood, with DMX, Method Man, and Redman all vying for time, and Durst's pairing with Xzibit on "Getcha Groove On" is rendered laughable by the chicken-chested Durst's dubious, nut-grabbing male bravado. The best moment of the album occurs on the outro when Ben Stiller goofs on this pseudomenace. "Watch out mom, big bad rock star" he mocks aptly. And for those with day jobs and electric bills, this album is far less scary than the skillet grime in a sink full of unwashed dishes or the ire of an unpaid landlord.
But this album's utility doesn't lie in invigorating taxpayers. Its importance, rather, is in galvanizing angry young headbangers, inspiring them to ditch the female-repelling bullet belts and circulation-defeating jeans—to cease the chicken choking and rage against the Vaseline.
Limp Bizkit play Tacoma Dome with Eminem, Papa Roach, and Xzibit Monday, November 13.