Papa Roach has changed their sound a few times over of the course of their career. They began as a rap-rock group before adopting punk and radio rock elements. Their last record, Crooked Teeth saw a “return to their roots”, mixing gritty guitars with harsh vocals. Now, nineteen years after making their name with Infest, Papa Roach is back with their latest album Who Do You Trust?. Given this alluring title and their tendency to alter their sound, could the band be aiming to take up a new style, again? Absolutely.
I was apprehensive about this album after listening to the singles. At first glance, Papa Roach had completely changed their sound. Sure, they always had poppy elements and rapping, however, something seemed different about this album. It felt different. But I had faith they would release a quality album that was fun. Save Old Friends From Younger Years Papa Roach has yet to produce a poor record. So I pushed my anxiety aside and waited until the album dropped.
After listening to the record, there is no doubt about it, Who Do You Trust? is different. Jacoby Shaddix summed up the record in a sentence when he spoke to Blabbermouth: “Musically, it’s like the most fucking extreme album we’ve ever made”. But, as I’ve noted before with other bands, I don’t think the difference is bad. Lyrically, this is still definitely Papa Roach, only now they have a more contemporary sheen. In other words, the music feels very radio friendly and at times utterly poppy. However, Jacoby Shaddix adds his distinct style by seamlessly switching between rapping and singing.
“Renegade Music”, “Who Do You Trust?” and “Not The Only One” are probably the “the-most-Papa-Roach” tracks on the album. These tunes are more rock based, where many of the others are more poppy and dashed with electronic influences. “Elevate”, the last song to drop before the album was released is a prime example of this: Jacoby raps a little around some electronic sounds. Sometimes there is a little guitar work crunching beneath his voice, sometimes not.
As I sat at the coffee shop this morning, streaming the album, I glanced through the comments on the album. They seemed very mixed. Some people embraced the band’s new sound, while others (who are presumably older fans) were not too keen on the change. In light of this, I feel like I should add my two cents. Papa Roach has made a career out of changing their sound. Alteration is part of their identity as a band. Therefore, this should not surprise anyone.
After Listening to the Album (Again) and Some Contemplation
After listening to the record a few more times, I thought should amend my review because it may come off a little misleading and harsh. This album really is pretty diverse, and it is worth listening to, especially if you like different types of music.
If you think of Who Do You Trust? as a transition album, like The Connection, it may help. Approaching this album as a experiment, the band had a little more freedom to tinker with one of the central aspects of their sound: adaptation. This happened a little on Crooked Teeth, however, this entire album is more shows the band pushing at the edges of their sound.
Even though the band tried new ideas and melded different styles together, I still put it low (perhaps lower than I should have, only time will tell I suppose) in my ranking of Papa Roach’s albums, in part because I generally dislike pop music, however, the album is more complete than Metamorphosis and more diverse than Lovehatetradgedy, which ranked lower.
Songs Worth Investigating
It is hard to pull a few songs out of this record that represent the entire breadth of the musical scope, given that there is a lot of variety on this record. Largely put, there are three types of songs: ones with rapping, ones that are “Papa-Roach-songs” and ones that are fairly poppy.
“Top Of The World” is a good place to start if you are looking for an upbeat tune with rapping. However, if you want to hear something reminiscent of “old” Papa Roach, you should look to “Maniac” or “Who Do You Trust?”. The music video for the title track is a clever tongue-n-cheek treat. After my first listen through, these are probably my favorite tracks. Lastly, I enjoyed the pop-punkish “Feel Like Home”. Lyrically, it resembles a typical filler song, but the atmosphere generated by track is enthralling. On the poppy, electronic side of things, “Elevate” is highly catchy and the lyrics of “Problems” are actually deep.
…And to Conclude
Overall, the record will trouble many older Papa Roach fans. However, it may gain the band some younger followers. Personally, I won’t be able to give an objective rating of this album for a little while, because of the difference the sound. That being said, I did enjoy the record. It was fairly soft, especially compared to my normal musical diet. Some of the tracks on this album will probably end up on a “Study” playlist. Additionally, if you enjoy music that blends genres, this album is worth listening to. Papa Roach has always excelled at splicing different musical elements together tho craft a new sound. Who Do You Trust? is no exception to this.