If there’s one good thing that can be said for sure about Billy Talent, it’s that they’ve done a great job of distinguishing themselves from the rest of the modern “radio punk” phenomenon. Like Good Charlotte and their ilk, Billy’s self-titled major label debut is definitely more pop than punk, but there’s something unique and maybe the slightest bit authentic about these guys that’s missing from the rest of the pseudo-punk rock proletariat.
First of all, the band’s vocalist sounds a like the bastard child of Johnny Rotten and that dude that sings for fellow Canadian outfit Our Lady Peace. How’s that for sounding different? And they make extensive use of the call and response harmonies of The Clash, mixing in the slick, simplistic hooks and polish of Blink-182, and even finding a little space for the hard-rocking angularity of Snapcase. A busy mix, and one that either works incredibly well or falls flat on its face, depending on which track you’re listening to.
Songs like “This Is How It Goes,” “River Below” and “Nothing To Lose” are all well-crafted, perfectly infectious radio singles. It’d be hard to pry them out of your head with the Jaws of Life. “Voices of Violence” is a lot of fun and sounds like a total throwback to early 1980s punk, but it ends up feeling just a little out of place here. But hey, at least it’s fun. On the other hand, “Try Honesty,” “Living in the Shadows” and especially “Lies” are just so downright grating to the senses. So much for consistency.
It’s funny how a bad track or two can completely ruin an album, but if you can look past that (HINT: rip to other media, dispose of original material), you’ll find that the majority of Billy Talent is full of ridiculously catchy pop songs that thankfully don’t just sound like just more of the same.
Billy Talent: www.billytalent.com