Novelty hits can kill a band's career faster than a cheating manager, but Alien Ant Farm's jokey rendering of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal" two summers back was a really good novelty hit. Ironically, Ant Farm's "Criminal" cover typifies what's missing from TruANT. Full of punk propulsion and foreboding riffs, TruANT also boasts a catchy first single ("These Days") as well as some experimental stuff -- notably the calypso-esque "Tia Lupe." But too many gloomy barnburners drag the record into the realm of new-metal tedium, and singer Dryden Mitchell's relentless brooding gets old fast. "Someone I thought was a friend to me has ripped a hole in my life," he sings on "Hope." On paper, that's no more bleak than the first verse of "Criminal," but Alien Ant Farm's forced delivery makes all the difference.
(RS 931, September 18, 2003)
(Posted: Aug 27, 2003)