The problem with mainstream rock today is that it often sounds too lazy. There’s no questioning producer Brendon O’Brien’s board skills (he played a key role in lifting alt-rock bands like Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots to their creative peaks), but his advice regarding “Life Is a Bullet,” a track from Papa Roach’s Lovehatetragedy, is suspect: “Brendon was like, ‘That sounds good how it is; you guys don’t need to change it,’” recalls lead singer Jacoby Shaddix in DreamWorks’s press release. While the band’s strength lies in its rhythm section, Shaddix’s lyrics are about as adroit as his former moniker “Coby Dix.” Sure, tracks like “Born with Nothing, Die with Everything” serve their post-adolescent purpose, but today’s crop of too-literal angst-rockers lack the poetry of, say, Eddie Vedder. The album explodes with the punk-rooted “M-80 (Explosive Energy Movement)” yet Shaddix delivers lines like “I’m filthy, I’m horny/I’m dirty, nasty, dirty” without so much as a hint of irony. “Decompression Period” seemingly touches on genuine emotion (“Mile by mile we’re farther apart/And it’s one empty bottle/And four broken hearts”) but “Walking Thru Barbed Wire,” a song about the death of Shaddix’s dog, is almost as painfully reductive as the band’s 2000 hit “Broken Home.” Shaddix often conjures tragedy for the sake of drama; the album’s title track evokes images of 9/11 (“You better run for your life/Shed a tear/Live in fear/Tragedy day”) but, like most of Lovehatetragedy, it says absolutely nothing at all.
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: