Seether's sixth studio album, Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray, comes out today. The good news is, fans of the band will find that this is Seether's best album yet. The bad news is, it's still not good enough to garner the band a whole lot of new fans.
Lyrically, not much has changed. Front man Shaun Morgan is still pissed off, feeling slighted, and raging at those who've wronged him. On "Country Song," the first single from the album, he sings, "Well I can't stand to look at you now." On the lead track, "Fur Cue," he orders someone to get out of his head and adds, "You've made me realize that it's all a lie." On "Here and Now," he laments, "I'll never belong inside your world."
Musically, some of the songs on
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have a harder edge than Seether's previous hits like "Karma and Effect" and "Fake It." The guitars are grittier, and there are some good metal riffs in some of the tracks ("Fade Out," "Down"). But these tracks are also more melodic than anything else Seether's previously done, and come out sounding more emo hard rock than heavy metal. Cases in point: "No Resolution," a classic verse-chorus-verse formula song that sounds like something Fall Out Boy might have recorded on an off-day, and the power ballad "Here and Now," which sounds as radio-ready as anything Nickelback's done. Speaking of Nickelback, Seether wrapped up a tour with them right before recording this album. So maybe it's no coincidence that a lot of Seether's new songs resemble a lot of old Nickelback songs.
For all Shaun Morgan's lyrical sadness and anger, the best track on Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray is "Tonight," an uncharacterically optimistic pop song with a huge chorus backed by a tidal wave of soaring guitars, where Morgan sings, "I'm sick of complaining about a beautiful life."
Well, then Morgan should stop complaining. Because when every angry track on the new album is contrasted with "Tonight," they don't hold up. Instead, the album as a whole comes off as a glimpse into the band's still-unrealized potential. It sounds like they just stuck with what worked -- and it's not working anymore.