Limp Bizkit

Following up on the monster success of Significant Other, which has sold more than six million copies to date, Limp Bizkit has just released what may be the strangest and most intriguingly titled album of the year, Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water.

Significant Other brought us such culturally irrelevant, yet head-bobbing ditties as "Nookie," "N 2 Gether Now" and "Break Stuff," establishing the Bizkonians as one of the most commercially accepted bands on the scene. Unfortunately, the new album falls well short of groundbreaking, and does nothing to indicate that Bizkit is maturing or, for that matter, improving.

What it does deliver is what the group's fans probably want most -- more head-banging-til you're-dizzy, hair-pulling, hearing-destroying, guitar-and-drum-driven jams. Vocalist Fred Durst spits out his usual me-against-the-world lyrics that first attracted Limp's mostly middle-class, 21-and-under audience. This time, however, it seems to come off as whiny -- poor-me verse from a pampered rock star.

When rapper Eminem disses his enemies or describes how he would kill his wife, you can't help but listen, morbidly fascinated. When Durst speaks about some of the same general topics, you can't help but laugh it off as more Gen-X complaining.

On Chocolate, the whining begins early and doesn't let up until the CD stops spinning. From the get-go, tracks like "Hot Dog," "My Generation" and "Full Nelson" come off as experiments on how many times one man can cuss.

This isn't to say the collection doesn't contain its share of highlights. "Rollin' (Air Raid Vehicle)" rocks hard with its infectious beat and catchy hook. "Livin' It Up" is destined to become a staple in Limp's live shows, given its "Life in the Fast Lane" sample. Durst even welcomes some of his famous friends here, including a who's who list of stars from the entertainment world such as Ben Stiller, DMX, Method Man, Redman and Xzibit.

A little of Durst's annoying shaky voice goes a long way here, particularly on the slower tunes. Tracks like "The One" and "Hold On" highlight the fact that Durst needs some serious voice training. Durst also lacks any real rap skills. When he goes head to head with Xzibit and the other bonafide hip-hoppers, he sounds like, well, a white boy (Eminem excluded). "Getcha Groove On" is a mistake that should never have been recorded, while "Rollin'" could be an impressive hip-hop track -- minus Durst.

But Limp Bizkit's fans aren't all that concerned with how well Durst sings or raps. They just want the band to keep rocking with a fury and fierceness that's often lacking in today's pop rock-dominated industry. To that, fans can rest assured that Limp Bizkit is unlikely to stop anytime soon.

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Jake McKim