Billy Talent

Billy Talent III

Written by: TL on 13/07/2009 17:13:56

When Canadian punk rock group Billy Talent released their debut album a few years back, they were a fresh breath of air that few could resist. Their crunchy garage riffage combined with a characteristic and manic vocal anger from singer Benjamin Kowalewicz made out a cocktail that appealed to scenesters and pop-punk fans alike, and with songs that dared to be catchy while they were angry, suddenly even the mainstream radio was on board the Billy Talent band wagon. Unsurprisingly, the band followed up on their success with "II", an album that not only made the band's sound poppier and more formulaic, it also cut back on the aggression, so that it could easier be peddled to the wider audience. And people loved it of course, as critics like myself struggled in vain with our complaints about how the punk had somehow been drained from the picture. Eventually however, the singalongs died out and Billy Talent faded from the public's view for a bit - until now that is, as they have recently come back with their third album "III".

Now I will try to restrain my urge to say "I TOLD YOU SO", but it really is hard when "III" sounds the way it does. First of all, the only really punk thing you can say about Billy Talent on this record, is that they seem to be dedicated fans of the "If it ain't broken" school of thought. If you wanted more of the stuff on "II" then you may rejoice, because the band sounds exactly the same here, only mellower, more subdued and more predictable. Secondly, the band seems even less expressive about their anger than last time around, and to me at least, they're beginning to sound like an act who've had their fifteen minutes and have already become jaded by it.

Thankfully however, there's one thing they haven't forgotten, and that's how to write a catchy song around a single solid guitar riff. Lead single "Rusted From The Rain" proves this beyond a doubt, and aligned with songs like "Saint Veronika", "Tears Into Wine" and "The Dead Can't Testify", the album proves to have enough force of memorability to save it from being a total loss. The problem however, is that even if half the songs on this record are indeed catchy, that can't negate how they still just feel stale. They don't really move you. You know that feeling of having a song stuck in your head even though you don't really like it? That's what these songs will do to you.

So all in all, Billy Talent do manage to tread water as a band for a while yet, but while I'm sure they'll retain most of their fan base with "III", they should fall way short of ever impressing anyone with it. I know I'm not impressed, and while I might feel the odd urge to spin a song or two from it once in a while, I don't think you should be bothered with this album unless poppy punk rock is your bread and butter - and you're still hungry after having had some Rise Against and some Rancid.

6

Download: Rusted From The Rain, Saint Veronika, The Dead Can't Testify
For The Fans Of: Rise Against, Green Day, Rancid
Listen: myspace.com/billytalent

Release Date 09.06.2009
Atlantic/Warner

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