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Gym Class Heroes – The Papercut Chronicles II (Review)

Gym Class Heroes, The Papercut Chronicles II

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

TRAVIE McCoy’s Gym Class Heroes have long had the ability to mix hip hop, rock and pop to enjoyable effect. On fifth album, The Papercut Chronicles II, that formula remains largely intact, albeit laced with a rawer feel at times.

As usual, there’s a finely selected mix of guest vocalists who bring mainstream cred to some of the more obvious singles, while at other times there’s more of a basic hip-hop vibe that recalls McCoy’s days on the Vans Warped tour.

It does provide some stark contrasts, with first song proper Martyrial Girl$ combining angry rock riffs with insecure lyrics about appearance and Brad Pitt, and its follow-up Life Goes On dropping radio-friendly beats and electronics around a guest vocal from Oh Land (which sounds sweet by comparison).

You can argue that the album is on surer footing when sticking to the mainstream and retaining an upbeat vibe, recalling both the playful Gym Class Heroes days of Clothes Off and the easy-going positivity of McCoy’s solo work on tracks like Billionaire.

Stereo Hearts, for instance, is an easy-going treat that has slick beats, smooth lyrical flow and a sing-along chorus from Maroon 5’s Adam Levine to help ensure that the album’s mainstream vibe is never compromised too far in favour of old-skool hip-hop.

But almost instantly, the album changes tack once more to offer an angrier lament about lost/difficult love and loneliness on Solo Discotheque, a harder mix of rock riffs, scratching and rap. On this occasion, McCoy finds himself slavishly devoted to a woman who likes to toy with his emotions, yet refusing to let her go, despite frequently finding himself my himself.

Holy Horseshit, Batman!, meanwhile, drops the sort of vocal flow that requires a double check that Kanye West hasn’t suddenly landed on the LP, given its hip-hop focus. But it’s still a decent slice of hip-hop that, once again, underlines the lyrical insecurities that are rife throughout the album.

That said, Gym Class fans more used to hearing the band’s more radio-friendly material may prefer the more pop moments such as Ass Back Home, which makes good use of Neon Hitch’s smooth guest vocals, and The Fighter, featuring Ryan Tedder, which drops piano-backed beats in a style befitting Bruno Mars and Glee cover versions.

Admittedly, the album has a bit of a mixed vibe but that somehow doesn’t detract from its overall enjoyment factor. It remains an effortlessly easy listen in spite of some of the angrier sentiments surrounding it.

Download picks: Life Goes On, Stereo Hearts, Holy Horseshit, Batman!, Ass Back Home, The Fighter

Track listing:

  1. Za Intro
  2. Martyrial Girl$
  3. Life Goes On feat. Oh Land
  4. Stereo Hearts feat Adam Levine
  5. Solo Discotheque feat Whiskey Bitness
  6. Holy Horseshit, Batman!
  7. Ass Back Home feat Neon Hitch
  8. Nil-Nil-Draw
  9. Lazarus, Ze Gitan
  10. The Fighter feat Ryan Tedder
  11. Kid Nothing And The Never-Ending Naked Nightmare
  12. Stereo Hearts Soul Seekers Retronica Radio Edit
  13. Stereo Hearts Dillon Francis Radio Edit