Once upon a time, Papa Roach declared they were “still swingin’”, and you can’t blame them as they’ve continuously proving doubters wrong having forged a career out of delivering acceptable radio-rock songs. Now as they deliver their 10th album, ‘Who Do You Trust?’, the quartet appears to be at a crossroads. Embracing pop-rock textures alongside the anthem rock that has served the band well for so long. However, the end result is a jarring record that is fairly questionable.
It all starts pretty reasonable with the modern rap-rock pairing of ‘The Ending’ and ‘Renegade Music’. On the former, hedonistic synths complement Jacoby Shaddix’s vocals in the verse before giving away with to a bold chorus. The latter is Papa Roach at their most visceral with a chorus straight out of WWE PPV circa 2010; simple, bombastic and memorable.
Much like 2017’s ‘Crooked Teeth’, ‘WDYT?’ takes some missteps in an attempt to broaden the band’s sound. Take ‘Elevate’ for example. Its brooding hip-hop instrumentation and annoying “Woah-oh! lift me high up” is uncomfortably reminiscent of Imagine Dragons. Later on, ’Top Of The World’ sees them tread on the same ground with the same results. Whereas ‘Come Around’ and ‘Feel Like Home’ provide a double slice of admirable pop-rock executed well.
Considerably the lowest point is ’Problems’. The combination of ‘woe is me’ lyricism and electro-pop atmospherics makes for an uneasy listen. Nevertheless, you have to applaud Papa Roach to continuously take risks and show a willingness to stylistically evolve.
The punk-fuelled ‘I Suffer Well’ thankfully puts the album back on track with its buzzsaw guitars and angst-ridden vocals. While ‘Maniac’, an intense number that sees Shaddix reflect on past struggles, keeps up the momentum by nicely blending hard rock guitars with melodic synths.
It’s clear on ‘Who Do You Trust?’ that Papa Roach have one eye on reinventing themselves yet reasonably maintain their alt-rock core. The over-reliance on glossy production traits ultimately hinders this 10th outing.
‘Who Do You Trust?’ by Papa Roach is released on 18th January on Eleven Seven Music.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)