Artist: 3 Doors Down

Title: Time of My Life

Label: Universal Republic

The latest 3 Doors Down album Time of My Life presents "a solid, no frills rock band" whose members "answer only to their fans . . . and each other."

That's right on, because if they hadn't already sold 16 million records, charted huge radio hits like "Kryptonite" and "Here Without You," and amassed a loyal following, music labels and media critics would probably just yawn at this fifth studio effort from the steadfast Mississippi quintet.

It isn't the hot new thing, but it's cool enough for those who enjoy the similarly aggressive yet emotionally sensitive blue-collar rock of Nickelback and Daughtry.

If there's anything different about Time of My Life from previous 3 Doors Down sets, it comes from this first time working with producer Howard Benson (P.O.D., Papa Roach). The crunchy guitar power chords have an especially heavy bite on the title track, and the riffs are quite fast and furious on "Believer."

The lite-metal power ballad solo in angst-ridden breakup song "Back to Me" is another sign that this act feels no pressure to be a creative trailblazer. On the whole, if you shuffled these current tunes in among the band's back catalog, it would not be easy telling 2000 apart from 2005 apart from 2011.

Within its chosen genre, however, there's plenty to praise. "When You're Young" is a well-written "question authority" anthem for today's student generation. Lead singer Brad Arnold sounds as credible as Eddie Vedder when he laments: They want you to be what they make you; it's already over and done when you're young. "Heaven" is another standout, a heart-tugging mid-tempo rocker with the strongest melody and most memorable chorus hook: I didn't have to die to go to heaven; I just had to go home.

But more than once, the ideas get tired on Time of My Life. "Round and Round" may be one of the catchiest pieces of music here, but the world-is-a-mess lyrics fall flat (Round and round and round and round it goes, where we're gonna stop nobody knows). The same goes for "Every Time You Go," a relationship drama where the wordplay is a retread of other well-established songs.

Ultimately, 3 Doors Down maintains the good-guys-of-rock-radio status, offering up nothing offensive (save for one mild expletive) and continuing to do things "My Way," to reference yet another new but familiar but still entertaining Time of My Life track.

*This review first published 8/1/2011