02 April 2012
by Tom Dare
Welsh chart-botherers, Lostprophets, are back once more. We know you love to mock them, people of the Internet, but we also know you know all the words to ‘Shinobi vs. Dragon Ninja’ and ‘Rooftops’. You can try and deny it, but we know the truth. The question is, will you be singing along to the lead singles from Weapons in a year’s time as well, and still trying to deny it?
At a time when the “foot in the door” rock bands are a little too often a bit/a lot shit, the undeniable truth is that – whatever shade of rock you listen to, from the giants that sells out Wembley Stadium to esoteric mindfuckery that plays to four people and the bass player’s mum in a pub – we need bands like Lostprophets. As much as you might hate to admit it, Impaled Nazarene fans, it’s bands like this that got you into the heavy stuff and led to the abominable noise. Maybe it was Green Day or Def Leppard when you came along, but it was someone with catchy songs, not blast beats.
If you’re wondering why this review has opened with that slightly cynical slant, it’s because Weapons can have that effect. It’s unobtrusive pop-chorused rock with very little in the way of anything you might take offence at. And that’s fine. In fact we should probably give Lostprophets some credit for still coming up with toe-tapping guitar songs with big choruses when they’re five albums deep into their career, when so many such bands would have burnt out by this stage. Detach your cynicism for a second, and approach Weapons on its own merits, and it’s quite good. It’s no Liberation Transmission, but it’s good. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a a few things some listeners are liable to balk at, however.
The main factor that separates this from a Dookie or Hysteria is simple: bollocks. The line between “accessible” and “cloying” isn’t so much a line as an object in between them that looks like a hairy version of Peter Griffin’s chin; the cojones-powered albums – and Lostprophets at their best have done this – have had just the right amount of cocksure strut, or snotty upstart angst. And Weapons is just a touch too much on the safe side.
Watch the video to ‘Bring ‘Em Down’ by Lostprophets:
Lyrically, someone needs to steal Ian Watkins’ copy of The Oxford Book Of Rock Lyric Clichés as soon as is humanly possible, because this is where things really fall down. The sub-Social Distortion reminiscence of ‘A Song For Where I’m From’ is bearable, but by the time we get to the lyric-by-numbers chorus of ‘Better Off Dead’, it’s getting a bit much. It’s almost like someone’s sat down and deliberately sewn together all the most commonly used phrases in popular music, because hey, those are the lyrics the fans expect, right? While I’m quite happy to be spoon-fed insincerity if the choruses are big enough (*cough* Disturbed *cough*), if I can see how you put it together, like a McDonald’s burger, it suddenly tastes worse than it did when I was blissfully ignorant. This becomes unpalatable when we get to the terminal ‘Sometimes‘, where every single fucking line is cliché, and the song itself sounds like it’s desperate to be the soundtrack for some shitty American college rom-com starring two improbably beautiful people.
In small doses, Weapons is fine. It might be as predictable as the Japanese public transport system and just as calculated, but there are some fun songs on here, particularly early on. Like reading the ingredients on a packet of sausages though, if you look too closely it might make you a touch nauseous.
Sounds like: Oh like you don’t know what Lostprophets sound like already
Stand-out tracks: Bring ‘Em Down, We Bring An Arsenal