Two years or so seems to be the cycle for album releases from jobbing rock bands and, true to schedule, Papa Roach follow up 2017s Crooked Teeth with an early 2019 date for Who Do You Trust?.
When I first heard the previous album it had been some time since I’d listened to Papa Roach (I kind of skipped over Metamorphosis, Time for Annihilation and F.E.A.R.) and found Crooked Teeth to be quite a departure from the band I was used to. Well, Who Do You Trust? takes the band even further askew from the “old school” band. Is this good or bad? Well, it’s very much a matter of taste.
For those who’ve followed the band’s progress year on year, this new release will seem like a natural progression. To the vast extent it’s quite laid back, funky even. There are some segments which hark back to the PR of old, but then you’ve got songs like “Not The Only One” which mixes near easy-listening pop with huge drop beats and electronically altered vocals with a final energetic blast which lends more to The White Stripes than Jacoby and company’s back catalogue. Remember when Theory of a Deadman reinvented themselves with Wake Up Call? Or Falling in Reverse with Coming Home? This isn’t far off.
Thing is, I liked Wake Up Call and after it grew on me it became my personal second favourite ToaDM album. Crooked Teeth took some time to stick its hooks in and eventually left me with a handful of songs I really like – and fortunately they number amongst the ones the band chose to play live. Who Do You Trust? after several listens doesn’t have a huge number of live belters. The title track’s pretty good and probably the closest to their recent style, but many other songs – while good – just don’t drag the emotions out, or really get you bouncing. Toe tapping? Yup. But raging? Not so much.
Oh, except “I Suffer Well”. This blistering 1 minute and 21 seconds-long track is probably the heaviest and most abrasive song that Papa Roach have ever recorded. I’d be staggered if this doesn’t shoehorn into their live set.
I’m really not sure what to make of this album… yet. Thing is, overall I’ve been enjoying it. A couple of songs (“Elevate” and “Better Than Life”, for instance) just aren’t clicking, but others I’m starting to hum. I think it’s a matter of trying to stop thinking of this as a Papa Roach album and appreciate it as a piece of music in its own right. Forget the trappings and the history and enjoy it. Ask me again in a few weeks and I may well be feeling more positive about it as a whole.
It’s always a brave move when a band makes a big change in their sound. I hope this works for Papa Roach and I’m interested to see which songs make it into the live show for the tour later this year – and how they transfer to the stage.
Who Do You Trust? is released on January 18th.