The Betrayed

Lostprophets

Sony, 2010

http://www.lostprophets.com

REVIEW BY: Greg Calhoun

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/13/2010

The Welsh rockers Lostprophets have evolved once again with their newest offering, The Betrayed.  Back in 2006, the group delved further into pop-rock than ever before with Liberation Transmission.  At the time, frontman Ian Watkins and his crew dressed heavily in black for promotions, and in doing so, they looked like a poster for the Matrix trilogy. A few years later, the band has emerged from the studio with a new dirtier sheen to their sound. If this was the Wachowski’s world, The Betrayed would be the red pill to Liberation Transmission’s blue.

This album is not a return to their sparse yet aggressive roots of thefakesoundofprogress or the pop-punk of Start Something.  It has the catchy choruses of Liberation Transmission, but the soaring ideals and bravado are now grounded in a grittier reality.  The world has shifted since 2006, and The Betrayed is a reflection of it.  This is recession music.

The disc launches off with the driving drums of “If It Wasn’t For Hate” before leading into the bombastic“Dstryr/Dstryr,” which riffs like Rage Against the Machine. The melodic chorus melts into a bridge that builds and teases before exploding into a rare guitar solo.

First single “It’s Not the End of the World,” follows this intro up with pop-metal riffs and a pounding refrain.  Even if it seems Michael Moore wrote the lyrics, it is a relatable song in a world worried about water wars, global warming, and intractable conflicts in the Middle East.

“Where We Belong” is the track most reminiscent of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Liberation Transmission’s radio-friendly pop and is a direct descendant of “Rooftops” and “Last Train Home.”  It doesn’t have the bravado of “Rooftops,” though, and it isn’t about love; instead, it’s about holding on in hard times, and in that, The Lostprophets deliver the quintessential recession single.

“Next Stop Atro City” will remind fans of “Start Something.” It is a fast-paced burner of a song that will have you humming and moving. If we’re headed there, at least the Lostprophets will have their fans dancing on the way to Atro City. Meanwhile, “For He’s A Jolly Good Felon” pairsa funky bass line and syncopated guitar to provide a new sound.  The song grooves its way into a fun singalong chorus.

On “Streets of Nowhere,” a retro dance-rock song that hearkens to Liberation Transmission’s single “Can’t Catch Tomorrow, Good Shoes Won’t Save You This Time,” Watkins sings that he’s never troubled and that everything’s okay on his streets of nowhere, but we know better.  It’s a defense mechanism, the pretense of a child blocking out sounds too painful to bear. It would take a Willis Tower full of Prozac to turn my city, Chicago, into these streets of nowhere, where everything is okay and trouble is nowhere to be found.

Next up, “Dirty Little Heart” slows down the pace with a thoughtful number about a broken heart that won’t quit.  The chorus is one of the most memorable on the album, and it doesn’t quit either. “Darkest Blue” relies heavily on a prominent bass line in the verse before a guitar riff builds nicely toward the refrain.  The song experimented with dynamic changes and could have taken the approach further.  The lyrics are demonstrative of the album’s sobering direction, as they could have been lifted straight from the diary of a teenager ridden with angst and worry.  Still, the plain lyrics are salvaged by another great refrain.

“The Light That Burns Twice As Bright” is a gem to cap off the album.  This is unexplored territory for the Lostprophets: a ballad that could never make it on mainstream radio. The chorus is not as catchy, but the complex meld of piano and guitar mixes well with vocals that are subdued until the tension builds to the track’s resolution.  This is the most introspective and heartfelt track and it allows The Betrayed to finish strong. It also builds momentum for further musical exploration in the band’s future.

The Betrayed provides a mix of styles as it muses on apathy, the loss of relationships, and the failure of dreams.  The Lostprophets are honest about who they are in delivering a variety of sounds while keeping the constant of a refrain full of hooks.  While they also sing at length about how it feels to suffer alone, the release’s introspective ballads offer a glimmer of hope.  Ian Watkin’s “Dirty Little Heart,” after all, “still longs to beat.”  So do ours, recession or no.

Rating: A-

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