Gym Class Heroes was always more comfortable on the rap end of the rap-rock spectrum. Frontman Travie McCoy earned his greatest fame not with the band, but with the hip-hop/pop smash hit “Billionaire.” So, listeners are advised not to expect a Linkin Park soundalike despite the similar genre labeling. The Papercut Chronicles II isn't nearly as pretentious as its title imlies―this is a polished (perhaps overproduced) rap-rock/hip-hop/ultimately pop album with a handful of guest appearances and dance-worthy hooks that offers little in the way of substance. With that in mind, though, this album pretty much accomplishes what it sets out to do―be a decent pop album. But it's far from the most ambitious goal.
This is somewhat disappointing, considering GCH shows tremendous songwriting potential at the very end of the album. “Kid Nothing And The Never-Ending Naked Nightmare,” the final track, is downright phenomenal. Reverb-soaked guitar and a passionate delivery from McCoy make for a chilling atmosphere, and the raucous chorus of “So this is me in front of class naked / this nightmare never ending/ so now I'm saying hello, and now I'm screaming hello!” is delivered with more than enough genuine emotion to cover up its corniness.
But this is an exception to the rule. “Martyrial Girl$,” while enjoyable, has no grand ambitions, just a refreshingly busy, drum-heavy verse and McCoy declaring “This kind of scene just ain't my thing.” “Stereo Hearts,” featuring Adam Levine of Maroon 5 fame, is another pop tune polished to a shine with a chorus that is impressively catchy but little else.
A few songs do break the pop mold; “Lazarus, Ze Gitan” is a funky hip-hop jam with McCoy deftly poking fun at a slew of cities, spicing things up with a Latin-flavored bridge. “Holy Horesh*t, Batman!” is a darker hip-hop track that finds McCoy defending his religious views, wrapping it up in a surprisingly thought-provoking chorus: “Maybe I would be a fool to think/ that somewhere in the sky's a place for me/ What good would it be to pray for me? You won't save me, don't pray for me.”
However, the word that describes the vast majority of the album is “inoffensive.” “Life Goes On” is pretty and somewhat cute, but ultimately forgettable. “Ass Back Home” seems somewhat directionless and overly repetitive. “Nil-Nil-Draw” is the only blatant misstep, thanks to McCoy's juvenile lyrics (“Don't tell me you forgot to take your Midol/ 'cause you ain't blaming this one on your period”) and utter lack of anything musically compelling.
The Papercut Chronicles II isn't, by any stretch of the imagination, innovative or substantial. It's somewhat entertaining, though largely vanilla. Aside from “Kid Nothing,” this album is good for a listen or two, but nothing more.
Photo Courtesy: Megan Westerby
Photo Courtesy: Mandi Gaga
Main Photo Courtesy: mbxclusive.com
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