Unless the sound of a robot’s voice turns you on, you won’t be immediately sucked into Gym Class Heroes’ new music.
Don’t fret, though. There are some big names ahead to save the day. The frighteningly catchy “Stereo Hearts” features pop hottie Adam Levine in the sugar-coated, radio-friendly hit. Without the falsetto tenderness in Levine’s voice, the song would fall flat among the pop dust that’s fallen from the crappy work made in the span of the past year.
GCH pulls the same move much later with “The Fighter,” but this time with OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder as their selling point. For some reason, this one doesn’t work as well. It’s just as upbeat, but there’s less of a luster to it. It may well be the common knowledge that Levine could beat Tedder in a fight just by glaring at him.
“Life Goes On” chimes as a flowy tune accented by Danish songstress Oh Land’s uniquely soft European pipes. It gives a free philosophy on life and charms listeners with its “you only get one chance” vibe. Of course it’s clichéd, but it really does sound good. Travie McCoy’s verses are neat, too.
The final namedropping piece about The Papercut Chronicles II uses Neon Hitch just as it does with “Life Goes On.” Instead of an optimistic philosophy, replace it with words about the perils of being away from a loved one and the song is complete. Perhaps there is a pattern to every use of parentheses in this album.
Both play off the successes of songs such as “Airplanes” by B.o.B with Hayley Williams and Fort Minor’s “Where’d You Go?” People really tend to buy into the placement of femininity in some of the most difficult rap lyrics on the music scene. Watch at least one of these songs get big just based on this factor.
Gym Class Heroes are hard to place as musicians. They rap and contribute greatly to hip-hop, but they seem to avoid the essential pop label anytime they aren’t featuring a solo pop star in one of their songs. Not to mention that “Solo Discotheque (Whiskey Business)”does rock out pretty hard in its hook and electric guitar solo during the bridge of the song. There is definitely a prominent rock edge to every song. The strange combination oddly makes sense for them.
There is a bit of a harsh, grey veil over the concept as a whole. The lyrical work at hand travels along a dark path for a good part of the album, talking about the difficulties of touring as a group and not getting along with a significant other. Somewhere along the road, Gym Class Heroes went through a rough patch. It’s a good thing for both them and listeners, though, because it fueled some passionate beats.
It becomes uncomfortably noticeable that Gym Class Heroes have some of their best moments whenever they’re in collaboration. It’s great that they make wonderful music with other artists, but is it serving as a copout for a lack of good work on their own?
Plus, the work they produce with guests is always catchy and upbeat, and their work as a band is notably rigid. It’s quite possible that the band will never be heard on the radio simply by themselves. Although it’s not a tragedy, it’s a shame because the group does pretty well for itself on its own. Without riding on the coattails of others, who knows where they’d be in their careers. For now, they’re getting away with it.
Gym Class Heroes – The Papercut Chronicles II tracklist:
- “Za Intro”
- “Matyrial Girl$”
- “Life Goes On”
- “Stereo Hearts”
- “Solo Discotheque (Whiskey Business)”
- “Holy Horseshit, Batman!!”
- “Ass Back Home”
- “Lazarus, Ze Gitan”
- “The Fighter”
- “Kid Nothing and the Never-Ending Naked Nightmare”