Considering that Ian Watkins has already tainted any chance of liking Lostprophets’ music in the future, Jay Downey examines their 2006 album Liberation Transmission to hear if there was anything worth liking about it then.
Why? Just… why?
I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out. Although I’ve never gone out of my way to decipher the delicate intricacies of Lostprophets, look at those Billboard charts. 2006 brought their third album Liberation Transmission, only a year and a half after their previous album, Start Something‘s release. Lostprophets had intended on squashing similar insults they’d received after waiting four years to release that second album. And just as that band name implies, Liberation Transmission brought Lostprophets more praise than they’d receive from any other release. In light of recent events surrounding Ian Watkins, and the resulting break up of Lostprophets, now seems like a perfect time to tear off that great big band-aid. Was this album really as good as everyone made it out to be, or was it just another glittering shiny turd dancing in the moonlight?
Touted as Hard Rock/Screamo/Metal, this album skates a pretty thick Pop surface. That’s a lot of genres to cover. I have to give it to Lostprophets, that this music is easily accessible. The hard parts are REALLY angry, the soft parts ULTRA sad, and the happy parts are mixed nondiscriminately between. I’d never heard someone so excited and joyed out over living in oppressive living situations as on this first track, “Everyday Combat”. Perhaps “living in the DMZ” is better than living in the MZ, so I CAN see their point. Still, that’s like saying “We’ve got fleas, but at least they’re not bedbugs.” Neither situation is good, but illuminating the darkness seems to be a key element behind a lot of these songs. Titles like “A Town Called Hypocrisy” and “Can’t Stop, Got A Date With Hate” should kind of speak for themselves, but I admit I myself have been a sucker for a morbid story in the past. One of my favorite Saves The Day tunes “Rocks Tonic Juice Magic” begins with “Let me take this awkward saw / run it against your thigh / cut some flesh away / I’ll carry this piece of you with me”. Or there’s Taking Back Sunday’s “You’re So Last Summer” in which Adam Lazzara pines, “The truth / is you could slit my throat / and with my one last gasping breath / I’d apologize for bleeding on your shirt”. Basically anything off either Alkaline Trio’s or Brand New’s discographies would yield similar examples of shockingly violent yet slightly humorous lyrics. I say all of this to come to one obvious point. Lostprophets do it different, and it’s fucking awful.
Pseudo sound-a-likes All American Rejects seem to have no qualms about waving that Pop flag high. In that respect, Lostprophets continually fail to land a hook and make it shine. Their debut single, “Rooftops” begins with a nondescript shimmering guitar riff that succeeds in warning the audience that this song will ambiguously rock. By design, vocals that waver in its preciousness eventually drop out into a bright eyed, bushy tailed sing a long, “Standing on the rooftops / everybody scream your heart out”. And you better, or… Lostprophets won’t have your favor either. Haters gonna hate. Compositionally this is really catchy stuff, it’s just a tad vapid. At least all of those OTHER Emo bands have some element of humor, a life lesson to pass on, or tell an interesting story to help them stand out. Liberation Transmission stands up and screams “Listen to me”, then proceeds to sit in the corner, babbling to itself about why its awesome.
“Everybody’s Screaming!!!” has a badass bass line that quickly gets hidden behind a Panic At The Disco embellishment. The added vocal harmony continues to muddle the senses, rather than intensify them. Eventually I myself was screaming due to the obtuse amount of instruments with individual meloies. Both this song and “For All These Times Son, For All These Times” were the only songs on here drummed by Ilan Rubin, who stuck around for one more album before leaving to work with NiN. Both songs have a bigger, more epic production quality that the rest of the album seems to make strides toward. Which makes me think that if they’d taken a bit more time to record the album proper, it could have sounded better. Yeah, you’re right. I’d probably still hate it. But still, take the time to record the right album, and the Downey brothers won’t have to rip it apart years later. Jus’ sayin’.
Overall it wasn’t the sound of the instruments that caught my hairy eyeball, but the horrendous lead vocalist that caused the most displeasure. Had he created lyrics that sounded in tune and genuine, that kept in check narcissistic thoughts, rather than giving up and saying fuck it, I could maybe get behind this. Since instead all we get is some jackass screaming into a microphone about how he’s pissed at the world in a major key, make him along with every single copy of Liberation Transmission rot in a jail cell for eternity. Because that’s just the right thing to do, obviously.
VERDICT: PISSAH… ERR, I MEAN, DISOWN
Throw your suggestions in the comment box. John will be back to clean up the mess we’ve made next week.
Read past editions of Own It or Disown It.