The Better Life

3 Doors Down

Republic / Universal Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


At any point in music history, you could make the claim that such-and-such band sounds like someone else who's out there in the market. Whether other people agree with you or not is another issue, but it seems that any band who dares to stick their toe in the pool will draw comparisons to someone else in the water.

I bring this up because as I listened to The Better Life, the debut effort from Mississippi's 3 Doors Down, I couldn't help but think that I had heard this style before. Maybe it was in labelmates Shades Apart; maybe it was drawing comparisons to the Spin Doctors for the Superman connection. Whatever the case, Brad Arnold and crew do seem to share a common link with the present alternative rock scene - and while this disc is by no means bad, it does suggest that the group is still struggling to find their own unique voice.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The first thing that strikes me about the band - vocalist/drummer Arnold, guitarists Chris Henderson and Matt Roberts, and bassist Todd Harrell - is that they do have quite a bite when it comes to the rhythm section... so much so, in fact, that at times it threatens to drown out the vocals. The second thing that hits you is the thought that you might be listening to Creed; the style of music is similar, though these tracks seem to be a little more lively.

The Better Life is not the kind of disc that will show all its colors on just one listen; had I based my opinion on one cursory pass of this disc, I don't think I would have thought too highly of the overall experience. However, the more you listen to the disc, the more the magic of these songs comes to the forefront. Tracks like "Kryptonite," "Duck And Run" and the title track all hit their full bloom around the third listen.

The real powerhouse on this disc is "Down Poison" - a track I'll freely admit has Creed influences on it, but still is a song filled with enough musical crunch and solid songwriting to satisfy everyone who gives it a spin. "Kryptonite" might be the track that has been locking in fans since the band was an indie, but "Down Poison" is the track that I think has the potential to really open up doors for the band.

The main drawback to The Better Life is that the power that is contained early on doesn't follow throughout the disc. Tracks like "Be Like That" and "Not Enough" just don't have the same kind of momentum that 3 Doors Down shows in the first half of the disc. If anything, the one disappointment is that the second half of this disc shows the undeveloped potential.

Granted, this disc represents a first effort for 3 Doors Down - and, in retrospect, it is a decent effort. However, it's only a matter of time together and on the road that will allow 3 Doors Down the opportunity to discover their own unique songwriting style and voice. Once that happens, they'll be unstoppable. It's just that I'm afraid some people will hear The Better Life and accuse this band of riding the coattails of other popular bands. Somehow, I think they deserve the opportunity to develop their own style - and while this disc is enjoyable, I'd rather look at this release as a promise of things to come.

Rating: B-

User Rating: A-



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Republic / Universal Records, and is used for informational purposes only.