Most of us will remember Papa Roach from their early 2000s rap rock hits like ‘Last Resort’ and ‘Scars’, soundtracking many angsty teenage years. But though they may have been household names over 10 years ago, the band have fallen from favour recently, despite continuing to tour the world and consistently putting out albums showcasing their aggressive style and frontman Jacoby Shaddix’s signature biting lyrical delivery. The question with the group’s ninth album, Crooked Teeth, is whether the band can continue to remain relevant in today’s rock music scene.
The album kicks off in high gear with opener ‘Break the Fall’ and the titular ‘Crooked Teeth’ showcasing crunchy distorted guitars, breakneck drumming and anthemic choruses that had me instantly head-banging, as well as the instantly recognisable rapping style. This trend continues throughout most of the album’s 10 tracks, with uplifting tracks like ‘American Dreams’ and ‘Born for Greatness’ sure to be hits with fans when the band play live. ‘Help’, in particular, which has been a rock chart-topper for the band in the US, is guaranteed to be popular, with its instantly catchy chorus dealing with mental health issues that many are sure to relate to.
In general, the lyrical content from Jacoby Shaddix is unsurprising, dealing with traditional and cliché rock themes like being an outsider, love and enduring through problems, although to his credit, Shaddix sings with palpable passion and gets the most out of these tired concepts. Similarly, the instrumentation from Jerry Horton, Tobin Esperance and Tony Palermo may be nothing new, but the guitar riffs and drum fills hit with clear enthusiasm and aggression.
The band excel when sticking to their reliable formula of pounding rap-rock jams
It’s hard to pick a favourite track from the album as many of the songs tend to blend together, but the band does branch out from its musical comfort zone in three songs; album closer ‘None of the Above’ is reminiscent of Linkin Park in its verses, and uses computerised vocals in its chorus. ‘Periscope’, which features Skylar Grey, also feels like Linkin Park, particularly recent single ‘Heavy’, with its softer musical approach and use of a female pop star for guest vocals. Along with upcoming rapper Machine Gun Kelly’s guest spot on relatively forgettable ‘Sunrise Trailer Park’, these songs feel like an effort to remain relevant in today’s music scene by using more electronic elements and drawing in a new fanbase, and they aren’t entirely successful, as these three songs are potentially the weakest on the album.
Crooked Teeth is not a revolutionary musical collection or a display of poetic lyrical complexity, and it’s unlikely to win over any nay-sayers, but when almost all the songs are this fun, it doesn’t really matter. The band excel when sticking to their reliable formula of pounding rap-rock jams that make you want to mosh and sing along, even if they aren’t breaking new ground doing it. Papa Roach show no signs of slowing down, and this album proves that if they stick to their roots, they may have years of life on the rock circuit left in them.