Tommy Lee’s output away from the confines of Motley Crüe has been like one of those rides at the state fair where you stand in a spinning cylinder and wait for the floor to drop out so the centrifugal force makes you stick to the wall: It looks sort of raucous and exotic from afar, but in reality it never works all that well and almost certainly makes you upchuck your corndogs into the bushes behind the petting zoo. His two solo ventures, 1999’s much-maligned rap-rock fiasco Methods of Mayhem and his 2002 album Never a Dull Moment, have mostly trafficked in occasionally inspired but mostly insipid mook rock that was heavy on the in-your-face attitude the Crüe skin-slapper has cultivated for himself over two decades.
The good news is that Tommyland: The Ride is a departure from the Bizkit-y sound that has defined his solo work. The bad news is just about everything else. Album opener “Good Times” sounds like Jack Johnson remixing a Sugar Ray track originally produced for Hilary Duff. The chorus is a big arena-pop moment, complete with a dreamy falsetto. Every note is scrubbed to immaculate perfection, with nothing to suggest that the man behind it spent at least ten years of his life sucking zombie dust off of B-list actresses’ asses.
In fact, just when you think Tommyland: The Ride can’t get any more insipid, Tommy proves you wrong: Good Charlotte’s Joel Madden shows up on “Tired” to sing about how you should leave your girlfriend once the sex gets dull, and Nick Carter (yes, that Nick Carter) lends his pipes to the readymade graduation song “Say Goodbye.”
You have to admire sort of admire Tommy’s blatant attempt to non-threateningly appeal to kiddies born well after Dr. Feelgood debuted atop the Billboard charts. On the other hand, part of his attraction is what a hair-trigger psychopath he can be, and that sense of danger is almost entirely absent from this ride. As a roller coaster, Tommyland: The Ride is poorly constructed one: none of the thrills, all of the motion sickness.