By Wes Scantlin’s own admission, Puddle of Mudd‘s sixth studio album, Welcome to Galvania, was a long time coming. The controversial frontman found himself in an ongoing cycle of drama, tumult and band friction. Scantlin’s public meltdowns were extensive list: run-ins with the law—(drug possession, DUI, disorderly conduct), domestic issues, unpaid debts, riding an airport baggage carousel and even taking a chainsaw to a neighbor’s property.
Onstage issues were just as numerous, including accusations of lip-synching, altercations with fans and abruptly leaving gigs mid-performance. It all led to his bandmates leaving the singer on stage by himself back in 2016. Given the number of incidents, it would be very easy to write off any chance of Puddle of Mudd releasing new music.
But Scantlin says those days are now behind him since he surrounded himself with a new team at label Pavement Entertainment. Both the new musicians and label share his rekindled belief in Puddle of Mudd. Galvania is a return to form of the band’s post-grunge sound—now performed by guitarist Matt Fuller, drummer Dave Moreno and bassist Michael John Adams.
Scantlin has no lack of self-awareness about his own personal travails of the past decade. On songs like the lead single, “Uh Oh,” he references his penchant for trouble. With a slight wink and a nod, he retains a resolution to turn things around to save his broken relationships.
“I’m really not sure if you’ve had enough/ Lately I know I’mma pushing my luck,” Scantlin sings on the track’s Beastie-Boys-esque riffage. Scantlin treats Galvania as his opportunity to put aside his past and continue down his path toward redemption.
The album’s meat-and-potatoes production opts to stick with a driving guitar, bass and drum sound. It serves the band well during moody rockers like opening track “You Don’t Know.” Amid the song’s melancholic strains, Scantlin starkly sings about the helplessness he felt during his troubles.
Musically, the band still operates within a modernized framework that rests between Nirvana and Alice in Chains. Heavier cuts like “Go To Hell” and “Diseased Almost” feature multipart harmonies along with Scantlin’s sung-screamed vocals. As a singer Scantlin sounds as refreshed as he did on Puddle of Mudd’s 2001 debut, Come Clean.
“My Kind of Crazy” leans toward lighters-in-the-air power ballads. The pinch of country influence drives the narrative of a dysfunctional on-again-off-again relationship. The band isn’t necessarily rewriting the rulebook with Galvania, but the album will absolutely resonate with longtime fans. One of the album’s best tracks, “Sunshine,” details the singer’s rise from the ashes with a more positive and uplifting outlook.
The tempo kicks up for the bluesy, grunge-influenced “Kiss it All Goodbye,” but Puddle of Mudd’s strength in relatable, singalong power ballads traces back to mega hits like “Blurry.” The introspective acoustic rocker “Just Tell Me” rekindles that spirit before its turn for the heavy. The album closes out with “Slide Away,” a dynamic acoustic rocker featuring Scantlin defiantly telling his past transgressions to stay out from his new life.
Welcome to Galvania provides a proper reintroduction for fans who may have been disillusioned by the singer’s past antics. For newer listeners, it’s a solid post-grunge album in spite of the style’s decline of influence in more recent years. If Scantlin keeps reforming his ways, this album sets Puddle of Mudd up for a return to the stadium rock circuit.
Follow writer Mike DeWald at Twitter.com/mike_dewald.