Hollywood Undead are one of those bands that people either really love or just don’t get. A masked rap rock crossover band was never going to be the easiest sell in the world, but despite that they seem to be doing rather well for themselves, especially stateside.
Their debut album “Swan Songs” was a big hit that propelled the band up the ranks, but the follow up “American Tragedy” was a bit patchy due to a softening of their songs. Due to a move from the label to make the band’s sound apparently more accessible for mass consumption… As such, it was with trepidation that I approached their latest album “Notes From The Underground” as I was really unsure of what to expect.
This time around it looks like the band has tried to appeal to both schools of thought, by retaining some of the hooks from “American Tragedy” but also the hard edge that was found on ‘Swan Songs’ and in doing so they have created probably their most consistent album yet. Lyrically, it’s a step up from the “party hard, get drunk and put your dick in anything with a pulse” word play and it also downplays some of the faux gangster bravado as well, finding a nice balance in the middle and bringing some new things to the mix.
Lead single ‘We Are’ is a prime example of where Hollywood Undead are at now. Album Opener ‘Dead Bite’ is also a playful track that reintroduces the band to audiences that may have skipped out on “American Tragedy”. ‘From the Ground’ and ‘Kill Everyone’ are heavier tracks, that show the band can still rock when they need to, but then on the flipside you have ‘Pigskin’ that is a straight up R&B track, that uses football metaphors to talk about pulling women. There is also ‘Rain’ which I believe the kids would call a slow jam or ballad. Both of these tracks show how quickly and smoothly Hollywood Undead can change the pace when it suits, without making things feel forced or out of place.
Hollywood Undead may not be everyone’s cup of tea but they do what they do and they do it very well. After the somewhat disappointing “American Tragedy”, it seems like they have taken back some of the control and are back with a vengeance. Provided they can keep the momentum going beyond this point, Hollywood Undead could go on to be major players in 2013 and beyond.