Welsh band Lostprophets have returned from their hibernation recently with The Betrayed, their first album since 2006’s Liberation Transmission. After bursting onto the hard rock scene with their 2000 debut thefakesoundofprogress, the band changed its sound a bit, becoming much more polished and radio-friendly with 2004’s Start Something (which featured the radio hit Last Train Home), an album that achieved some success on the US charts. 2006’s Liberation Transmission followed, and mellowed out the band’s sound even more, replacing the raw aggression and innovation that was a part of the band’s debut with dance-y punk pop and super-polished hard rock tunes. The album was somewhat of a letdown to longtime fans like myself, with the derivative radio jam Rooftops the hit song from the album. Coincidentally, I still hear that song at supermarkets, so I guess it paid off for them.
Well, they returned this month with The Betrayed, the result of some tumultuous record-label hullabaloo in the past few years. After scrapping some songs because they were ‘too slick and shiny’, they tried to enlist the help of super producer Bob Rock, but that fell through as well. They then took matters into their own hands writing and recording an album while bassist Stuart Richardson took over production duties. The songs they wrote during this time resulted in the track list of The Betrayed.
As a long-time fan of Lostprophets who became interested in the band upon seeing the video for their song Shinobi vs. Dragon Ninja way back in 2000 or so, The Betrayed is pretty good, despite its title and silly cover art. I didn’t really care for Liberation Transmission, as it was much poppier than I was used to. I much prefer the raw sound of thefakesoundofprogress and the harder-edged pop-rock sound of Start Something than the danceable songs with handclaps that plagued Liberation Transmission. This time around, the band seems to have tried to capture all three elements of their sound onto one album, and the results are mixed.
Some of the songs on the album try really hard to be “raw”, such as Dstryr and Dstryr, with an abrasive riff and lead singer Ian Watkins doing some yelling amid the vocals. He yells, says ‘motherfucker’ a bunch of times, and it’s easy to see the fist pumps that inevitably go down when this song is played live. It’s not bad, but it’s a bit of an obvious attempt to recapture their harder-edged sound. First single It’s Not the End of the World but I Can See it From Here is pretty catchy, in the way most Lostprophets radio singles are. The video features the band playing the song on a rooftop somewhere in LA, and it’s an aggressive yet catchy tune with some nice rhythms and guitar riffs, and a sing-along chorus. Where We Belong is another single from The Betrayed, and it is not unlike Rooftops and Last Train Home (from Start Something). It’s what people have come to expect from the band in terms of radio singles, and with good reason. It’s slightly predictable but still not a bad tune, despite its obviously epic-sounding drum fills and staccato guitar.
Next Stop Atro City is another attempt to be ‘raw’, and it suffers the same fate as Dstryr and Dstryr, with loud noisy verses and another sing-along chorus designed for mush-pit approval. It’s not bad, and features a nice propulsive assault toward the end of the song. The issues I have with The Betrayed can be seen with the very next track, For He’s a Jolly Good Felon. After the abrasive noise bomb of the previous song, this one comes next, with its dance/punk guitar riff and radio-ready sing-along verses, creating a huge difference between its sound and the previous track’s aggression. With this album, Lostprophets are trying to please all of their fans, whether they prefer the band’s old sound, the radio-rock sound, or the dance/punk sound. All those styles of Lostprophets are on display on The Betrayed, and for that reason it doesn’t really flow well as an album. In addition, the ‘raw’ songs don’t really come off as that ‘raw’ because of the shimmery production that the songs have; they aren’t as organic and authentically raw as they were back in 2000.
Don’t get me wrong, the band still does do all these styles efficiently, but The Betrayed comes across as a bunch of songs they had written a while ago thrown onto one album of varying styles, without much cohesion. That’s not to say this is a bad record, in fact I’d say it’s much better than Liberation Transmission. It just doesn’t flow very well, but that makes sense, considering the rocky path this record went through in order to be finished, with producers switching constantly, label support dwindling and the band ultimately doing everything itself.
If you’ve ever like any of Lostprophets’ radio singles, then you’ll probably enjoy The Betrayed. If you haven’t liked them since 2000, you probably won’t care much for The Betrayed. I think it’s a solid record, though, and a marked improvement over their previous album.