Imagine life as a CD case: from creation to destruction, you are little more than the plastic barrier between a kid and his brand-new CD. Besides being cast aside, broken or lost, you are always alone. The source of your loneliness may vary, but the result is a constant. Maybe you house a crappy, arrogant CD and are destined to sit in the obscure shelves of an obscure electronics store collecting dust. Or maybe you house the Lostprophets' new CD, in which case you will simply never see your buddy the CD because it will never leave the CD player ever. Sorry about that.
Random tangents aside, Start Something is the sophomore release from Welsh rockers Lostprophets. No jinx here. Start Something is one of the more diverse and consistent rock albums to crawl out of the aether since at least last year.
Lostprophets expose their punk roots early with "We Still Kill the Old Way" and "To Hell We Ride." The former is the better of the two, with a catchy, yet mellow refrain sandwiched between a barrage of frenzied guitar noise and some light shrieking. But the third track is the clincher: "Last Train Home" is all at once beautiful, complex and anthemic. It is a song that will paint your skin with goosebumps; a song that will have your index finger cramping from pressing the "previous track" button (unless you're smarter than me and find the "track repeat button"). It is a song that will, and should, grace people's top-ten song lists. This one simple song alone merits the fifteen dollars you will spend on this CD many times over.
The track begins innocuously enough, with a few bars of high and light guitar notes, before escalating suddenly with the barely constrained lead-in counting rock drummers seem so fond of. The heavier lead-in displays the true dichotomy of the song's chords, with longer strums complementing sharp, short bursts. The drumming during the entire song, and especially the verse, is nothing short of incredible. Singer/songwriter Ian Watkins has created a teen anthem of epic proportions, the chorus of which is simply inspired: "But we sing/If we're going nowhere/Yeah we sing/If it's enough/Yeah we sing/Sing without a reason/To ever fall in love." "Last Train Home," undoubtedly the album's best track, is a rocking, emotional ride from the first light trills to the final and hauntingly beautiful ones.
The next track, "Make a Move," tries to follow "Last Train Home" admirably enough, but, much like this paragraph, feels uninspired after its predecessor. The chorus features particularly cool vocals, where Watkins and his cronies sing, "Wake up/wake up/wake up" in an almost hypnotizing fashion, but other than that, some violins and some cool synth beats, there's nothing much here.
The rest of the CD is pretty much divided into two categories: the slower songs, and the kick-you-in-the-face, punk-type ones. "Burn, Burn," "Start Something," and maybe even "A Million Miles" all fall under the latter category. "Burn, Burn" starts off like, of all things, a Donnas song, and boredly bides its time until it can explode into a furious and screaming chorus. "Start Something," on the other hand, is fantastic, and probably destined to be the background music for the epic fight scene of, say, Lord of the Rings 4. It starts off with important-sounding guitar chords and timpani-like drums, revs the engine a couple of times, then just absolutely erupts, Vesuvius-style, into a literal hail of frantic drumming and riffing. The adrenalin in Watkins' voice is evident, and the song would seem empty without his screaming. "A Million Miles," perhaps the weakest of the trio, would be a fine song, even a great one, if Watkins' voice didn't fall into a flat monotone during the chorus.
The slower songs, meanwhile, are actually much more hit-or-miss. "I Don't Know" is a great mellow tune with some really cool lines ("I have no answers/And no questions spring to mind"), but "Hello Again," the very next track, is a dull, metallic requiem with few hooks or creative lyrics. And while "Goodbye Tonight" is a poppy song with a great jumping rhythm and well-crafted lyrics, "Last Summer" is stuck in its own self-importance as a so-called "summer anthem" and forgets to actually excite the listener.
One of the best parts of listening to these Lostprophets is the sheer versatility they bring to their genre. They've drawn their style from extremely varied sources, and the homages they throw in shouldn't go unnoticed. An early chord progression from "We Still Kill the Old Way" sounds like something directly from the Offspring's "The Kids Aren't All Right." "I Don't Know" sounds like a pre-Morning View Incubus song, namely "Stellar" or something in that vein. "Hello Again," for all its flaws, has a very Linkin Park-esque flavor, as does the CD's closer and second best track, "Sway." Even our good buddies Sugar Ray (we're talking old, old-school Floored Sugar Ray) make a seeming guest appearance on the bouncy "Goodbye Tonight."
Don't let these familiar quirks make you think the album isn't an original work of art, though. The Lostprophets throw in plenty of their own eclectic stylings, and the lyrics are fairly consistently spectacular throughout. Start Something is one of the rare CDs that combine universal appeal, great musicianship, solid lyrics and amazing vocals all between two nondescript pieces of plastic. Let's hope the Lostprophets are prophets; heralds, even, of a new wave of mainstream, yet original rock.
Nick Falgout. Nick Falgout was bored one day and decided to change his Chips staff information. And now, for a touching song lyric: "I'm a reasonable man, get off my case Get off my case, get off my case." ~ Radiohead, "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd … More »