"Say it to my face, look me in the eyes and say what you have to say," Toryn Green sings on Fuel's latest album, Angels and Devils. This has to rank right up there with Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney's staged spat on "The Girl Is Mine" for all-time least-convincing tough-guy moments. Then again, Fuel has good reason to feel determined. The band lost its drummer, then its frontman. Offering work, Fuel was turned down on national TV by an American Idol contestant. Yet Carl Bell and Jeff Abercrombie, the band's nucleus, refused to become just a blip in modern rock. Instead, they cut a new album with guest drummers Josh Freese and Tommy Lee, a meticulously overproduced effort so radio-ready that it drips gloss. Presumably, that's what Fuel's fans want. Every era needs its bands that embody the day's clichés in an arena-filling sound. It's strangely reassuring that Fuel's music can actually make you smell the mall. And it washes down well with beer.
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