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Billy Talent - Billy Talent II

Billy Talent II

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

TORONTO-based quarter Billy Talent blast their way back onto the punk rock scene with second album, Billy Talent II.

The album is immediately notable for having been mixed by the legendary Chris Lord-Alge, who worked with Green Day on their last album, American Idiot, so it’s little wonder that it resembles the sound of that band on several occasions (particularly their earlier work).

Billy Talent II kicks off with the blistering, Xfm-favourted anthem, Devil In A Midnight Mass, a riot of guitars and furious lyrics that comes at you full steam ahead. Some of its riffs are very Muse-like, although the vocals are pure punk and delivered with an intensity that borders on the Goth.

It signals a genuine wake-up call to anyone feeling remotely sleepy.

The equally breathless Red Flag follows in quick succession with the sort of chorus that’s bound to become a chant-along anthem.

If the publicity is to be believed, Billy Talent have sought to amplify the explosive energy and earnest lyricism that made their self-titled debut such an international hit.

And certainly, in tracks like Red Flag and Where Is The Line? they confront a world-wide sense of angst in typically incendiary fashion – witness lines like “the kids of tomorrow don’t need today when they live in the sins of yesterday” from Red Flag.

What really impresses about this follow-up, however, is its sense of timing. As loud and boisterous as the central focus is, Ben Kowalewicz and co clearly know when to take their foot off the throttle (albeit slightly), or mix the sound up a bit.

Tracks like the excellent Worker Bees are epic in the style of Green Day’s later work, shifting pace to emerge as a record of two halves – the second displaying a keen ear for a radio friendly punk-rock melody that could easily be embraced.

Similarly, some of the riffs on Pins And Needles are very strong, while Kowalewicz’s vocals could just as easily be delivered by Green Day.

Later on, Surrender succeeds in delivering one of the most melodic tracks on the album – a longing effort about a hidden love that offers a strong chorus and some poignant lyrics – “she’ll never know how much she means to me, I’d play the game but I’m the referee” and “I think I found a flower in a field of weeds”.

The Navy Song also features a strong guitar intro that kickstarts a song about loss and pain. Both tracks showcase a maturity not always evident in some of the more straightforward headbangers.

But it’s this ability to strike such a balance that makes Billy Talent II so striking. It’s a punk rock album of genuine worth that deserves a massive following. These boys are here to stay.

Track listing:
1. Devil In A Midnight Mass
2. Red Flag
3. This Suffering
4. Worker Bees
5. Pins And Needles
6. Where Is The Line
7. Covered In Cowardice
8. Surrender
9. In The Fall
10. Perfect World
11. Sympathy
12. Burn The Evidence