Hailing from New York, four piece Gym Class Heroes,named after
founding members Travie McCoy and drummer Mat McGinley met in high
school in gym class. “The Papercut Chronicles II” is the fifth album
release from the band.
The latest release from the band sees them well and truly within their
comfort zone musically. Opening with an intro with what sounds like
Professor Stephen Hawking doing a spoken word piece, the album proper
kicks off with “Martyrial Girls”. First of all, would someone take the
band aside and give them proper spelling lessons? Apart from that, it
is an okay track to open the album and a definite indication of what
is to follow.
“Stereo Hearts”, featuring Adam Levine on guest vocals, points at what
is both good and bad about Gym Class Heroes. While featuring great
production and strong musicianship, the music generally on this album
lacks its own sense of life and character. This scribe understands
that there are people who did what Gym Class Heroes do-five albums
does say a great deal about an act having a strong following. However,
the rock/hip hop hybrid as used by the band sounds incredibly vanilla
and really adds nothing to either genre. Look at the way that Public
Enemy and Anthrax collaborated on that brilliant version of “Bring Tha
Noise” some years ago. That had a fire and energy that is sorely
lacking on this album.
Some tracks featured on “The Papercut Chronicles II”, such as the
execrable “Solo Discotheque”, shouldn’t have even made it beyond the
first recording session. This is embarrassing, dickswinging, try hard
white boy hip hop/rock at its worst. The overdone squealing guitar
towards the end feels totally out of place on a track where, quite
frankly, nothing works.
The album manages to pick itself up somewhat after this with “Holy
Horses”, with a really effective and menacing bass and drum lines.
Again, like “Solo Discotheque”, the squealing guitars seem totally out
of place and ill used. This is a recurring problem throughout the
album. “Ass Back Home”, featuring a guest spot from Neon Hitch, is
perhaps the best track on the album, displaying a organic and
consistent sense of musical idea and vision.
Overall, this is a frustrating listen, as there are some intriguing
and, at times, compelling musical ideas and themes waiting to be
explored. However, the execution leaves a great deal to be desired.