Those who like their music manly, their guitars brawny and ear-drum piercing, should have reasons to be cheerful in the new year. Rock is back — or, at least, it’s on its way. Money-mad, gold-plated hip-hop and perky Swedish bubblegum are wearing out their welcome with the public, and a new generation of musicians — ones who don’t rap, don’t employ DJs, and don’t always wear baseball caps backward — is mounting an assault on radio and the charts.
Now here’s the less-than-encouraging news. After spending quality time with Hoobastank’s current album one walks away with certain impressions. Your friends can’t be trusted or counted on; and the ones you thought loved you, in fact, don’t. Everywhere is a bleak, ink-black hole of loneliness, pain, rejection, and two-faced friends.
And I thought I was depressed in high school.
Such sentiments will sound familiar to anyone who’s spent time cranking metal records, and the new breed owes a lot to the brutalizing sonics and pessimism of metal’s darkest side (and rap-metal’s pent-up rage).
On the back cover of their first album, Hoobastank, singer Douglas Robb even ditches the standard stone-faced stare in favor of an actual half smile. He’s also given to goo: ”Let the two of us be one,” he incants at one point. But, ultimately, he’s just another whiny young white guy, grumbling that he’s ”a cold unhappy man/I’ve come to realize the life I have I hate.” In light of seemingly weekly terrorist warnings, it’s easy to understand why record buyers would relate to such dire dispositions. But these discs amount to an indictment of rock pre-9/11: They now sound solipsistic and self-indulgent.