The obnoxiousness of heavy metal married to the effrontery of hip-hop: It's a recipe that's irresistible to a certain segment of the adolescent market--and eminently resistible to everyone else. Limp Bizkit's 1997 debut, "Three Dollar Bill, Y'All," was a slow-building success, but not one that charmed many listeners outside its prime demographic. Of all the funk-tempered rock bands to devolve the Red Hot Chili Peppers' style, none seemed more devolved than Limp Bizkit.
The Florida quintet's breakout was largely the responsibility of a lurching version of George Michael's "Faith"; little on "Three Dollar Bill, Y'All" suggested that the band could write its own hits. But Bizkit's new "Significant Other" (Flip/Interscope) offers more skillful songwriting and more fluid rhythms, although it's hardly more mature in other ways.
Actually, "Significant Other" means to be more grown-up. Inspired by vocalist Fred Durst's breakup with his girlfriend, such songs as "Nobody Like You" find the band indulging singer-songwriterish ruefulness: "Every day is nothing but stress to me," announces "Don't Go Off Wandering," to a melody that suggests the distant influence of the Cure. "Maybe there's more to life than it seems/ I'm constantly running from reality, chasing dreams," Durst muses. In "No Sex," he rebukes the too-eager sexual partners of his debauched past: "I feel disgusted/ And you should too/ It's no good/ When all that's left/ Is the sex."
That lugubrious song's refrain is "Should have left my pants on this time," but the album's catchiest chorus is not fully printable in a mainstream newspaper: "It's all about the he-said, she-said," begins the central grievance of "Break Stuff," a song about being in the sort of mood where "you want to justify/ Ripping somebody's head off." Fierce but sprightly, the track expresses heavy hostility with a surprisingly light rhythmic touch (albeit also with a predictable string of expletives). Such tunes as "Break Stuff" and "Just Like This" indicate that there may be a future in Bizkit's funk-rock rancor--as long as Durst can keep his occasional outbreaks of sensitivity tastefully covered up.
(To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8152.)
CAPTION: Limp Bizkit's "Significant Other" offers better songwriting and more fluid rhythms than 1997's "Three Dollar Bill."