Papa Roach, ‘Crooked Teeth’ – Album Review
Papa Roach found themselves in an interesting position going into the recording of album number nine, Crooked Teeth. They had dipped a toe back into the rock/rap leanings of their earliest material on 2012’s The Connection, but pulled it out quickly for its 2015 follow-up, F.E.A.R. Now, two years later, they’ve waded into the deep end again with a healthy mix of old and new. A big part of it is the production team of Nicholas “RAS” Furlong and Colin Brittain, who both grew up as fans of the group and encouraged them to grasp the past while keeping it fresh.
“My Medication” is just one example of how the two sides of Papa Roach’s career can fit onto one coin. Frontman Jacoby Shaddix effortlessly switches back and forth from rapping and singing in his vigorous vocal style. He slips in a bit of the former in the title-track, and does it even more so on album opener “Break the Fall,” which is almost the most striking moment of Crooked Teeth if it weren’t for welcoming rapper Machine Gun Kelly into the fold for a duet on “Sunrise Trailer Park.” Papa Roach have done this before; a guest spot from Royce da 5′ 9″ was featured on F.E.A.R., and if it worked then, why not give a shot this time around?
A stark contrast to the on again embracing of hip-hop is having pop singer/songwriter Skylar Grey teaming up with Shaddix on “Periscope.” The result is one of the highlights of Crooked Teeth, with Grey’s stirring vocals actually meshing well with the band’s sound, which is restrained in just the right way to make it work on every level.
Without the help from outsiders and when not looking in the rear-view, Papa Roach continue their longstanding tradition of fist-pumping, energetic anthems. “None of the Above” has a guitar riff from Jerry Horton bubbling just underneath the surface before it explodes into a familiar theme from Shaddix in the chorus where he is in need of rescuing, in this case, it’s religion that may save his soul, whether metaphorically or literally. “Take me to church / ‘Cause I’ve been blessed with a curse / I arrived in a limo / And I left in a hearse,” he sings.
There are demons chasing Shaddix which aid in a loss of control on “Ricochet,” and on the single “Help,” which sounds like it could’ve been an outtake from the band’s 2002 disc lovehatetragedy, he’s in search of, well, help.
It’s obvious Papa Roach aren’t straying too far outside of the lines of what made them so appealing in both the beginning of their career and in recent years, but at almost a quarter century into the game when so many of their peers have been forgotten, they continue to stay relevant. What’s most compelling about the band, other then their more than admirable longevity, is continually trying to find the balance between the then and the now. On Crooked Teeth, it’s by far the closest they’ve come to giving fans of both eras an equal helping of each, which is no easy feat.
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