"Hi…Remember me?" asks a familiar voice in a robotic monotone.
Definitely, Za, and welcome back.
Gym Class Heroes finally released "The Papercut Chronicles II" last Tuesday, several months after the chart-topping, and oddly catchy (more on that in a minute), "Stereo Hearts ft. Adam Lavine" debuted.
And, yes, GCH is back – for real, this time.
Forget "The Quilt (2008)." They have. This is a stronger album featuring the band's trademark fun lyricism delivered by front-man Travis "Schleprok" McCoy. Fans will recognize the beats and fancy wordplay that first drew us to GCH.
Finishing first is "Holy Horse****, Batman," a musical rejection of contemporary religion. Warning: someone will be really offended. But it's hard not to consider lines like "But I've heard The Devil wears designer clothes; so does God have a favorite brand and for that matter is He even a man?"
In true GCH style, most song titles are plays on words laced with some stinging criticism of society or relationships. In "Martyrial Girl$," they take on the shallow, materialism of modern pop culture (Listen for the reference to an earlier song). In "Nil-Nil-Draw," they talk about a relationship that went wrong.
There's a lot to love on this album.
I was disappointed with "Quilt." Too many collaborations; too much going on, and I could count all the lyrically deep and/or fun songs on one hand – minus two fingers. But if collaborations were the death of "Quilt," they fuel "Papercut II" and earn it a cozy spot in GCH's pantheon – above "For the Kids (2001)" and below "The Papercut Chronicles (2005)."
I was initially turned off by "Stereo." I like Maroon 5, but that Levine seemed to be the new presence among alternative hip-hop (See also: K'Naan's "Bang, Bang") was unsettling.
It really wasn't that serious. While not the strongest GCH song, "Stereo" is an interesting transition from the introductory songs on "Papercut II" to the meat of the album. The powerful collaborations abound.
You will find yourself rocking to "Life Goes On ft. Oh Land," the album's second single. It's burst of positive lyricism with a lot of personality, like 2008's "Shoot Down the Stars." Two other singles – A** Back Home and The Fighter – are arguably the strongest collaborations, with the latter featuring "One Republic" vocalist Ryan Tedder. It's a motivational powerhouse that tag-teams well with "Life." You fall, and then pick yourself because you're a "Fighter" and you know that "Life Goes On."
One glaring flaw is that the album is too short. Sorry, guys, but when your fans get used to 13-plus tracks on an album, serving up 11 just isn't enough. I had also expected a third "Wejusfreestylin'." Still waiting. But I'm definitely proud to call myself a GCH fan.
Note: when the last track seems to "end," don't eject the CD, change songs or start up a new playlist. There's an end-credit Easter Egg, like "Band-Aids", that rewards anyone who can withstand the two minutes of silence.
Why would they do that? Because they are GCH.