“I listened to…” is a sporadic series where contributors tackle a track-by-track review of an album that’s outside the normal scope of Tuned Up reviews but still might pique some of our reader’s interests. The title is tongue-in-cheek; we aren’t necessarily suggesting the album is bad or that you shouldn’t actually listen to it, just having a little bit of fun.
I Came into This World as a Reject: Limp Bizkit Then and Now
The year is 1999 and Limp Bizkit is on top of the world. The video for “Nookie” was battling it out for the number one spot on TRL against the likes of Britney Spears (“Baby One More Time”) and Kid Rock (“Bawitdaba”). Britney ended the year at #3, with Limp Bizkit at #7 and Kid Rock at #9 respectively. The peaceful idealism of former hippies turned capitalist baby boomers would go up in flames at Woodstock ’99, as Limp Bizkit encouraged the crowd to “Break Stuff” and the masses literally tore down plywood barriers and crowd surfed them. Mobs ended the ill-fated weekend by burning the place to the ground while Red Hot Chili Peppers did a rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire.” Elsewhere in pop culture, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s star was rising in the WWF (now WWE) universe. Star Wars had just returned after a 16-year hiatus with Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. And the Wachowski Brothers released a little science fiction called the Matrix which would forever change the scope of what was possible with special effects and cause the world to ask the question, “what’s really real?”
Fast forward 22 years.
Britney Spears is once again in the news after gaining freedom from her 13-year conservatorship to her father. Kid Rock has switched styles from rap-rock to country, opening a honky-tonk bar in Nashville that revels in violating COVID guidelines, and turned from rabble rousing rebel to right-wing spokes-puppet. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has become an action blockbuster superstar as well as kid-friendly funny guy, starring in franchises like Fast and the Furious and Jumanji. Star Wars wrapped up another trilogy to mixed reviews but completed Season 2 of its flagship live action show The Mandalorian, which united adults and children alike over a deep love for Baby Yoda. The Wachowskis (now sisters), are preparing to release the fourth Matrix movie, Matrix Resurrections, in December. And The Red Hot Chili Peppers just announced a 2022 world tour which will reunite them with guitarist John Frusciante.
And wouldn’t you know it, Limp Bizkit is once again on top of the world. The early 2000’s godfathers of Nu-Metal have returned, headlining Chicago’s Lollapalooza with Fred Durst ditching his signature hoodie backward red fitted hat for a wig, mustache and leisure suit. Once again, the band launched into their mega-tune “Break Stuff.” But this time, after an HBO documentary on Woodstock ’99 exposed how Bizkit’s angsty and childish antics led to the demise of the festival, Durst prefaced their festival appearance by saying “Let me make this clear: this is not Woodstock ‘99. F–k all that bulls—t.” To top it all off, they just dropped their first new album after 10 years, ironically titled Still Sucks.
Limp Bizkit, known for taking themselves incredibly seriously in a genre that largely fed off bros who also took themselves too seriously, are launching a comeback of epic proportions by sticking to the formula that made them popular, only unlike some of their nu-metal compatriots from back in the day, they are self-aware enough to be in on the joke.
Full disclosure, I was all in on the Limp Bizkit train for several years. “Break Stuff” dropped at a very pivotal time in my musical formation. I probably still know every word to every song on “Significant Other” and “Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water” (but can’t remember important things like family birthdays and long division). I’m still holding out that someday, Limp Bizkit is going to play a surprise show on 4/20 at a certain Sunoco Station in Dayton (if you don’t know what this is, watch this video and thank me later)
So, I sat down and listened through all of Still Sucks, which brought me back to a time when riff was king and a fully functional DJ was a normal part of any self-respecting rock outfit (see Incubus, Kid Rock, and P.O.D.). The following are my quick takes on all 12 tracks of their return to the mainstream. So, crack open an ice-cold Surge, slip into your most comfortable pair of JNCO jeans, snap into a Slim-Jim, and get ready to take a deep dive into Limp Bizkit’s seventh LP, “Still Sucks.” I’m going to rate each song out of 5 “Dad Vibes.” These are definitive ratings and should be taken very, very seriously…
*Let’s be clear, I’m ranking these tracks and this album as self-contained in the Bizkit-verse. I’m not stacking this up against ‘modern’ music or my current musical tastes, and it’s certainly not going to show up on any of my year-end lists. But hey, if you’re listening to this in 2021, that means you are also willing enter the Limp Bizkit bubble and pretend like music hasn’t changed for 22 years, which is just fine with me. Keep on rollin’ baby, you know what time it is.
Take a Look Around: Breaking Down The Tracks
“Out of Style”
This is how you kick off an album. There is no dust on Borland’s riffs, and it has an interesting synthesizer line in the post-chorus, which is somewhat different for them. “I’m always out of style, never change my style cuz my style is kind of fresh” is a pretty ballsy claim, but that’s the name of the Durst game. Limp Bizkit’s lyrics have always been pretty self-referential. Also, if you’re worried that Fred was going to stop saying “bitch” as a response to “PC” culture (or really, progressing culture which holds artists to a higher standard when it comes to misogynistic language), fear not because the Fredster is still the Fredster, slinging the term ‘bitch’ around like so many unwanted tootsie rolls at a community Thanksgiving parade. Some things never change.
5/5 Dad Vibes
“Dirty Rotten Bizkit”
Fred is channeling his inner 311 on the chorus in the best way possible. “I need a bizkit, a dirty rotten bizkit.” I don’t know what that means (and I don’t want to know what that means), but I’m here for it. Zero substance in this song, and that’s just fine.
5/5 Dad Vibes
Filled with puns, dad jokes, and heaps of braggadocio, this should’ve been the unquestionable best track on the album based on the title alone. But the riffs here just don’t hit that hard and the chorus is pretty ‘meh.’ I feel like I was promised more than was delivered.
2.5/5 Dad Vibes
“Turn it Up, Bitch”
Pretty good bars (sure, we’ll call them bars), sick bass line, but nothing new. Standard Bizkit.
3/5 Dad Vibes
Whoa, strap in for a hard transition. Fred and Co. tackle an INXS song, but transform it from a New Wave club jam to an acoustic ballad. This certainly isn’t the first time they’ve thrown in a cover song (“Behind Blue Eyes” and “Faith”), but this less-than-faithful rendition of the original is actually pretty successful. And even though the tone is completely different than the previous couple of songs, the thematic and musical shift was a much-needed breath-of-air from the Bizkit schtick.
5/5 Dad Vibes
“You Bring Out the Worst in Me”
“It’s Halloween and I’m your ghost, I promise to haunt you the most.” This is Fred at his most poetic (which shouldn’t raise your expectations, he’s still no Elliot Smith). The bassline sounds very-much like a Justin Chancellor Tool riff, and the chorus incorporates some almost-screaming. The dynamism in this track is almost progressive for the band.
5/5 Dad Vibes
“Love the Hate”
“That mother****er Fred Durst is nothing but a Fred-ache, makes my head hurt.” This song makes my head hurt.
1/5 Dad Vibes
Bizkit’s best attempt at a Nirvana song. It’s like the old saying goes, shoot for the moon, and if you miss you’ll still end up in a Puddle of Mudd.
2/5 Dad Vibes
This is the overly dramatic angsty-acoustic kind of song they would’ve released post “Chocolate Starfish” in an attempt to get people to take them more seriously. Tracks like this make me question if they fully understand that people weren’t laughing with them. And I can’t believe that Borland wrote this boring chord progression. Zero fun to be found here.
1/5 Dad Vibes
Where “Barnacle” was their attempt to inject some Cobain into the album, this song apes Nine Inch Nails circa Downward Spiral. There are some interesting things going on here in the interplay between drums and industrial guitar riffs, but Fred will never be able to write like Trent Reznor. Stay in your lane dude.
2/5 Dad Vibes
Okay, we’re back now. This is Limp Bizkit’s bread and butter. Funky drum beat, rapping against so called ‘haters’ and some blatant Easter eggs with “Chocolate on the Starfish.” Listen, no one turned on Limp Bizkit in 2021 to hear them trying to sound like other bands we might like from the 90’s.“I’m bringin’ out the fixin’s, too many to mention, and bring it back to ’90s to ease up on the tension.” In the immortal words of the O’Jays, “Give the people what they want!”
4/5 Dad Vibes (minus 1 vibe because of the unnecessary fake interview with Wes Borland as a tag on at the end)
“I know you’ve been hiding things, you’ve turned into my lying king.” Alright, I see your pun there, more dad jokes. This song is unapologetically poppy and outside of their style. But, it’s also pretty good. It’s feels weird following after “Snacky Poo” which is clearly more Bizkit-esque (which probably should’ve closed the album). But, it’s a good track, so no complaints.
5/5 Dad Vibes
Hey Kid, Take My Advice: The Wrap-Up
So there you have it, all 12 tracks of Limp Bizkit’s “Still Sucks,” rated for your reading pleasure. Averaging out my scores for all the tracks (which were well thought out and should be considered authoritative), this album finishes with a 3.5/5 Dad Vibes. That’s respectable for a band trying to be on the inside of the joke while not quite getting the punchline.
If you’ve come this far and don’t want to just take my word for it, you can become one of Limp Bizkit’s 4.6 million followers on Facebook and stream Still Sucks pretty much everywhere.