Credit where credit is due. Papa Roach have successfully reinvented themselves several times over having started life as a rap/nu-metal band. They found phenomenal success with their debut Infest & the follow up Lovehatetragedy in the early 2000s.
The first reinvention of the band came on the widely popular, Getting Away with Murder. Here all elements of the nu-metal/rap style they previously had were gone. Instead focus was shifted to singing & a softer, rock sound. This new style was cemented by the next album The Paramour Sessions. Songs like …To Be Loved saw the band sounding more mainstream then ever before & it just seemed to make them even more popular.
In 2012, Papa Roach looked to reinvent themselves again releasing The Connection, an album that saw the band include more electronics & effects. It was an album that divided fans with many unsure of this new direction. This was something that dogged the band going into the next album, F.E.A.R. Even though it was one of the most successful Papa Roach releases to date.
Which brings us to Crooked Teeth, Papa Roach’s 9th studio album & a return to their rap/rock roots. The album is out now via Eleven Seven Music.
The opening song, Break the Fall combines a rap/hip-hop style with rock resulting in a song that is everything terrible & great about old school & modern Papa Roach. On the one hand it’s got a decent rock beat with a catchy chorus but the hip-hop elements are so contrived & un-exciting.
It lacks vibe, it lacks energy something that the title track manages to make up for. Crooked Teeth has a bit of a punky edge to it & is a clearer indication of the band drawing upon everything they’ve done to date.
Unfortunately it’s also a reminder of just how cringe-worthy Jacoby Shaddix’s lyrics can be.
“Terrified, paralyzed, Something’s got a hold on me. Let me go, I can’t speak, I’m choking on my crooked teeth.”
There are some nicely done riffs & melodies throughout the album. My Medication, American Dreams & Help are all decent & enjoyable rock songs. Crooked Teeth has its fair share of catchy choruses & these three in particular stand out as the best the album has too offer.
Unfortunately a lot of the good work is undone by the outdated rap moments. These moments lack any kind of edge, sounding forced to please a section of a Papa Roach fan base. This isn’t a young, angry band anymore so they just don’t work especially coming off the last 5+ albums.
The bad songs…they’re really bad. Born for Greatness is incredibly poor with embarrassing lyrical content:
“Oh, somebody sound the alarm, oh, a fire was set in the dark, oh, It’s time that you know. No we’re not nameless, we’re not faceless. We were born for greatness.”
The ballad, Periscope (feat. Skylar Grey) is as bland as anything the band has ever written but the nothing compares to the utter trash that is Sunrise Trailer Park (feat. Machine Gun Kelly).
Instantly opening with self-styled anarchist, Machine Gun Kelly ‘rapping’, the style & content instantly marks the song out as a piss-poor attempt to be ‘relevant’ but instead just comes across as a ploy to appeal to a certain market.
“I was young and I was reckless man, moved out at seventeen and made my momma mad. I thought I had it all figured out, a pocket full of pills and a forty in my mouth. Peeled out in my big black Chevy. Pimped six times and I knew that I was ready, to straighten up because my best friend died. I didn’t wanna carry on living that life.”
Good gods…it is just terrible, an absolute waste of everyone’s time & it signals a real downward trend for the rest of the album.
The last two songs sound like a band believing they know what hip-hop is, believing that they’re cool & down with the younger crowd. Traumatic is exactly that, a traumatising experience while None of the Above is a bit of an apt title for many of the songs that have already come before.
It’s a flat ending to an album that gets a lot wrong & proves that what was in the past…belongs in the past. Thankfully, it’s not all bad. There are some good songs, some catchy & rhythmic songs that stick in the head so perhaps next time less reinvention/reflection & just stick to writing good, catchy rocks songs.
“Take me to church cause I’ve been blessed with a curse. I arrived in a limo and I left in a hearse. They’re speaking in tongues, feels like we’re coming undone. Don’t want no part of this, none of the above.”
Oh & write less embarrassing lyrics, please.
Papa Roach – Crooked Teeth Full Track Listing:
1. Break the Fall
2. Crooked Teeth
3. My Medication
4. Born for Greatness
5. American Dreams
6. Periscope (feat. Skylar Grey)
8. Sunrise Trailer Park (feat. Machine Gun Kelly)
10. None of the Above
Crooked Teeth is out now via Eleven Seven Music & you can give it a listen yourself through Apple Music below.