“No Surprise,” the first single from Theory of a Deadman’s Gasoline, almost belongs on side two of GN’R Lies; it’s got swingin’ acoustics and some good-natured self-pitying misogyny. The only thing missing is any kind of spontaneous off-the-cuff feeling. Wussy story: When my ska-loving college roommate and I needed manly background music to build a sturdy shelving unit, the closest thing we had was New York Dolls, which was fine through “Personality Crisis” but then not so much. Gasoline would be perfect for the job; all its songs sound planned out well in advance, and originality is not a priority, as evidenced by the song titles “Santa Monica,” “Since You’ve Been Gone,” and “Save the Best for Last” (none of them as good as their doppelgängers). It also lacks that signature Lies/Dolls feeling that the singer and drummer are not reading lead sheets.
Ha! We kid, the Theory and I, but I actually like their CD quite a bit. The boys display a peculiar wit in such tight-lipped lines as “She fills my bed with gasoline/You think I woulda noticed.” With their relentlessly roiling riffs and serviceable melodies, all 13 songs manage a satisfying Stone Temple crunch. In short, TOAD sound as good as you can sound while still sounding exactly like Nickelback.