Much to the chagrin of my fellow heavy metal friends, I have always had a soft spot for lostprophets, having been drawn to the jump-around youthfulness and energy in their songs and the strong riffs in tracks such as Shinobi vs Dragon Ninja.
The release of their third album, Liberation Transmission, cannot be missed with huge posters around the country and massive radio and TV airplay for first single Rooftops.
This all fits with lostprophets’ self-confessed aim that this album should be a big seller so, after having cemented their status as hip young things adored by teenage girls everywhere with Start Something, will it give the lads from Pontypridd the mansions and fast cars they crave?
Things get off to an optimistic start with Everyday Combat, which follows the tradition of putting one of the heaviest songs on first in order to grab the listener. Town Called Hypocrisy charts the frustrations of living in a standard no-life town, and joins well with New Transmission, a lively shout out, which ends with a Bon Jovi-type “whoa-oa-oa”.
The big single Rooftops is just that, a song to sell to the masses, with a large chorus and a crowd-pleasing “wherever you are – you can be heard” lyric.
Looking at my notes after having listened to the album about 10 times, I suddenly realised I hadn’t written anything about the next track, Can’t Stop, Gotta Date With Hate. So I listened to it again… And remembered why.
Thankfully, Can’t Catch Tomorrow is better, with a cool late ’80s glam rock feel and Everybody’s Screaming has a wonderfully skippy bass and drum line, which shows that lyrically lostprophets are “growing up” with their audience – moving from being depressed about school to being depressed about a dead-end job…
Unfortunately, things go a bit downhill at this point, starting with Broken Hearts – a pretty direct attempt at pulling on the heartstrings of their target audience, but nothing more than a pretty standard pop-rock song with a Blink 182-style chorus.
4:AM Forever is a throwaway ballad which has been heard many times before; For All These Times comes and goes (things are starting to sound a bit samey now); Heaven For The Weather, Hell For The Company is actually refreshing with its background samples and vocal changes, but then comes along Always All Ways, which just sounds like bloody Keane, and the album is finished, flat as a pancake.
This album is pretty successful in its pop-rock formula, with many of the songs growing on the listener until, soon enough, you are whistling the choruses at work.
However, for me there lies some disappointment. lostprophets had an opportunity to use the solid platform they have built themselves to unleash some of the rawness bubbling beneath the surface of the previous records. Instead Liberation Transmission has an air of safety about it – slickly produced, with easy to follow choruses for crowd-based sing-alongs, and although occasionally you feel as though the songs want to bite, they seldom do.
Having said that, this album will undoubtedly sell by the bucketload to obsessive young fans (who just whispered “boy band”?). The only question is whether lostprophets alienate or cement their relationship with the rock crowds in the process.