Gym Class Heroes The Quilt Album Review
We’ve seen this before.
Band comes out of nowhere and hits it big with their debut. Band then follows that with a strong sophomore effort. Then, lead singer of band thinks the success of the group is all his doing and he splits from his mates for a solo career.
That scenario looks a lot like what might be going on inside the Gym Class Heroes’ camp.
An engaging potpourri of funk, rap, rock and R&B, Gym Class Heroes was a water-tight unit a couple of years ago, a band of brothers locked into battle against bland, uninspired blather.
But are there changes on the horizon for the upstate New Yorkers?
While lead singer Travis McCoy has not officially left the group yet, Gym Class Heroes’ latest release, The Quilt, sure feels an awful lot like a Travis McCoy solo album.
The main problem with that, is that The Quilt is mired with a generic quality that might have been avoided had there been more Gym Class Heroes and less Travis McCoy on the group’s third full-length outing.
For a “band project” there is sure an awful lot of additional musicians that pop up on The Quilt.
So to put it mildly, this one sounds nothing like The Papercut Chronicles, or As Cruel as School Children.
The Papercut Chronicles was raw, dark and just a tad bit edgy. And of course As Cruel as School Children had the breakthrough radio mix of “Cupid’s Chokehold/Breakfast in America.”
The Quilt has, well, none of the above.
The Quilt.... Deeper
A large portion of the tracks might easily be slipped into the bland, all-sounds-the-same rotation of a Top 40 radio station.
And that’s a shame for one of the true hip-hip/indie rock conglomerations that actually takes pride in playing its own instruments instead of falling back on backing tracks and sampled beats like a lot of the genre does.
But that’s not to say The Quilt does not have some semi-charming qualities to it. It does have a couple of moments, but taken whole as a body of work, leaves a lot to be desired.
Nor, should the shortcomings of The Quilt be laid squarely at McCoy’s feet. Maybe Matt McGinley (drums), Disashi Lumumbra-Kasongo (guitar) and Eric Roberts (bass) just should have forced their way through the mix.
McCoy’s battles with substance abuse during the album’s creation, along with the loss of some family members, understandably helped shape the way The Quilt came out. This is also a catalyst for the solo-feeling the disc takes on.
“Cookie Jar” is an instantly catchy tune featuring a great guest turn from The Dream, and using a dash of imagination, you can guess that McCoy is using cookies as a codeword for the female species. Grabbing a hold from the start, “Cookie Jar” is one of the strongest songs on The Quilt.
The great Busta Rhymes shows up on “Peace Sign/Index Down” and is truly in his element, cutting loose like there’s no tomorrow. Makes you wish that he had been allowed to roam freely on more of The Quilt.
“Like Father, Like Son (Papa’s Song) is as poignant as the title sounds, a reflection of McCoy’s respect and admiration for his father, underscoring the family ties woven throughout the disc’s 14 tracks.
Gym Class Heroes gets some help from Estelle on “Guilty as Charged,” the first track on the disc. Estelle’s flow on the chorus keeps the tune from being a simple blue-eyed soul knock-off. And any song with a shout-out to Judge Judy is at the very least, interesting.
“Drnk Txt Rmeo,” “Kissin’ Ears” and “Blinded by the Sun” never really seem to be able to gather enough speed to take off under their own power.
There’s always the chance that Gym Class Heroes have just momentarily lost their way and are aware of this. Listening to The Quilt, it’s really hard to fathom that the entire band is on board with the end result.
Maybe it is a sign that Travis McCoy does indeed have his sights set on what he sees as the greener pastures of a solo career, sans the rest of Gym Class heroes.
Or, maybe the novelty has just worn off what was once a sharply-tuned band.
Whatever it is, The Quilt is just too much like its namesake – a bunch of uneven, patchwork scraps sewn together in hopes of making one complete unit.
Gym Class Heroes Links
- GYM CLASS HEROES on MySpace Music - Free Streaming MP3s, Pictures & Music Downloads
MySpace Music profile for GYM CLASS HEROES. Download GYM CLASS HEROES Indie / Hip Hop / music singles, watch music videos, listen to free streaming mp3s, & read GYM CLASS HEROES's blog.
- Gym Class Heroes Official Site