Lostprophets

The Betrayed

Written by: TL on 02/02/2010 19:25:40

After indulging their every poppy whim, and consequently hitting massively with their last album "Liberation Transmission", the success story that is Lostprophets have no doubt faced a task that was far from underwhelming. Bouncing back from a mega hit ("Rooftops (A Liberation Broadcast)") and picking up more and more pop-oriented fans on their second and third albums, to say that LP were struggling to hold on to the fans of their old material is an understatement of considerable proportions. Moving on would signify "decision time", and it seems that the band took this fact seriously, taking their time in figuring out what they actually wanted to sound like. They scrapped a finished version of the record that had been recorded with John Feldmann, deeming it too polished, tried to go back to Bob Rock (who produced the prior album), but that never happened, and in the end, they decided to take back control and hand the producing duty to their own bassist Stuart Richardson.

So then, "The Betrayed" has become a record on which a band reinvents itself in the hands of a debuting producer. You can hear it in the darker and grittier production that the band has promised us in interviews prior to the release (again, an audible bass, omnomnom!), but if you ask me, it also seems audible that Richardson has certainly given his band the freedom to experiment on here, and to make a long story short, the result is a bunch of songs of varying quality.

On a fair number of tracks, LP pull off something awesome, the best example being "Next Stop Atro City" which comes roaring out the gates with an excellent chorus, demanding that you sing along, and then self-destructs midway in a break that reminds you that LP used to be inspired by hardcore. It's a stark contrast to the preceding "Where We Belong", the anthemic chorus of which feeling like it belongs on Green Day's "American Idiot". Both songs are pulled off brilliantly. Oh, and speaking of choruses, that Lostprophets know how to pen some is etched in stone, when "AC Ricochet" explodes in a soaring one that descends deliciously with the words "So what do you SAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaa-aaaaay, pull the trigger, walk away, pull the trigger, ricochet". Listen to it, it's simple, yet deadly effective. Oh, and speaking of being inspired by hardcore, also take notice of the first real track of the disc "Dstryr / Dstryr", which is hysterically destructive, bringing Refused to mind with surprising ease!

On the flipside however, a track like the first single "It's Not The End Of The World But I Can See It From Here", showcases all too clearly, not only how similar some of LP's guitar melodies are to stuff Billy Talent could write, but also how they can fall into a pitfall familiar to that band, writing a chorus that may be catchy, yet doesn't really invoke any emotion in the listener whatsoever. It's the kind of song that may very well be sung back at the band dutifully in a live show, but also one that noone will ever rank among their top LP songs I think. It just feels forced, and oddly constructed somehow?

In between those songs as well as towards the end of the record, are tracks that do indeed have infectious enough choruses to have you singing along easily, yet they don't really have the bite of those four mentioned highlights. I note this down to the fact that they don't fully utilize the freedom Richardson has provided, refraining from chasing down the expression they hint at, and instead seeming content with remaining catchy and solid, yet fairly straight forward rock tracks. Numbers like "Dirty Little Heart" and "Sunshine" are in the better end of this category, while "Streets Of Nowhere" takes the prize as the seemingly most pointless track on offer.

All in all, I think "The Betrayed" is a record that will actually satisfy those that demanded that LP took a step back from the poppy mainstream and regained some footing in heavier territories, and it's interesting to hear them experiment with a variety of different influences. However, it is my opinion that the potential is only maximized in little under half the songs, while the rest have been made to work well enough to go down, especially in a live environment I expect - Yet they don't emit that confident and composed vibe of songs that are flat out strong from end to end. It's good that Lostprophets are untangling themselves from the mainstream machinery and finding themselves as artists, and that's what I think this disc is helping them do, however, if they want to do more than just add a few bullets to their live-arsenal, I think they'd do well to spend a bit more times polishing the songs from a compositional standpoint, now that the production issue seems solved for the time being?

Download: Next Stop Atro City, AC Ricochet, Where We Belong, Dstryr / Dstryr
For The Fans Of: Billy Talent, AFI, The Blackout, Madina Lake
Listen: myspace.com/lostprophets

Release Date 10.01.2010
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