And so the emo-core phenomenon continues, aided by Billy Talent, four young, good-looking, but angst-ridden teenagers from Toronto. At least I hope they’re teenagers – much older than that and they should be consulting their physicians for a hormone imbalance.
If you need a description more specific than emo-core, think Good Charlotte without the arch humour or Linkin Park without the rapping andyou’ll have a fairly good idea of what to expect from Billy Talent.
The music is, of course, heavy and riff-laden with a pleasingly deft touch employed by be-quiffed lead guitarist Ian D’Sa which is reminiscent of thievery marvellous At The Drive-In (RIP). However, as soon as the vocals kickin’, it all becomes a bit laboured. There’s no doubt that frontman Benjamin Kowalewicz can howl like the best of them and when there’s a good chorus such as in the single Try Honesty, he carries the hook masterfully. But when not searing his vocal cords, he just sounds like he’s wallowing in a sea of self-pity.
The lyrics range from earnestly asserting clinical depression (“I’m sick and I’m twisted/I’m broken you can’t fix it” on River Below) to just silly: “Everybody needs some sympathy/Santa seemed to miss my chimney,” Kowalewicz complains on Line And Sinker. Poor lamb. Perhaps if Santa hadn’t been quite so negligent, Ben wouldn’t be quite so angry and could have successfully auditioned for the next N*Sync.
Still, it’s worked out pretty well for him; as it is he’s probably got thousands of black-clad school kids moshing away at Billy Talent’s undoubtedly loud, sweaty gigs, punching the air to their admittedly anthemic choruses, and annoying their parents by playing the album too loud in their bedrooms. A career of heavy rotation on MTV2 beckons and there can’t be many teenage rockers who wouldn’t give their eye teeth for that.