Review Summary: If you’re looking for quality musicianship and meaningful lyrics…you’ve come to the wrong party.
We all have those albums that we save for certain occasions. Of course, there are countless records displaying amazing musical dexterity and rollercoaster emotional value, those albums that have an intrinsic meaning behind them and make you work for your enjoyment. Those are the albums that are praised as classics; bodies of work with timeless relevancy which will carry their messages long after the initial listeners and creators are no more. Every now and then though, some kind of respite is needed. Discs that we slip in as barriers between the audio masterpieces, albums that lighten the mood of the world and require next to no interpretation for their interior to expose itself, listening experiences that bare themselves to you and coerce you into taking a break from the endless intricacy of truly amazing musicianship. Ladies and gentlemen, I am of course talking about those albums that are devoid of almost any exceptional talent, but provide an undeniable layer of FUN.
‘Swan Songs’ is one such album. MySpace icons Hollywood Undead made the subsequent steps necessary from their collection of demo tracks in order to record and release a debut LP. The material, which was finalised in the space of a year, was released on A&M/Octone Records in late 2008 and comprises of fourteen tracks of simple, catchy fun. With their interesting combination of hip-hop and rock, Hollywood Undead have taken the best of their original MySpace tracks and coupled them with new material produced specifically for this release. The end result is a summary of all that Hollywood Undead stand for which is bundled up as blind fun emblazoned in simple-structured songs.
Pop the jewel case and remove the thin disc contained within. Once you hit play on whatever appliance of the available thousands you have decided will be your own, you as the listener are exposed to opening track ‘Undead’. As the first taste of ‘Swan Song’s’ material reveals itself, it is immediately obvious that Hollywood Undead are fond of their hip-hop elements. An electronic introduction attaches itself to a bass-heavy drum and distorted guitar-driven rocker. Since all six members of HU (Hollywood Undead’s self-appointed acronym, with which they openly refer to themselves) are essentially vocalists (among other roles), the verses are distributed to whomever the members deem appropriate at whatever point. Clearly, there is vocal versatility. The member known as ‘Deuce’ takes on almost all clean vocal duties while the five remaining members switch between husky shouts, rapping and screams. The member under the moniker ‘Funny Man’ has a very distinctive deep voice and raps slowly (1st verse of ‘No Other Place’ etc.), contrasting sharply with the speedy, higher rap voice of ‘Charlie Scene’ and the screams of ‘J-Dog’. On the topic of the members aliases, it is made clear that they don’t take themselves very seriously, with names such as ‘Da Kurlzz’ and ‘Charlie Scene’, listeners should have some idea of what to expect.
Instrumentally, the members of the band also manage to string together some catchy moments. The buzzing guitars on ‘Sell Your Soul’ and the tremolo picking (strangely reminiscent of Spanish styles) during the introduction of ‘Everywhere I Go’ make for interesting diversity between songs. There are no moments that leave the listener lost as to where the finality of one track exists in conjunction with the beginning of another. The drumming is not used as an over the top distractor which hijacks tracks and buries the other elements, but is used in almost the opposite way. In fact, the drumming is more of an undercurrent than a crashing wave of sound. Weaving his way through the songs in a remarkable absence of egotistical behaviour, the drummer manages to promote some impressive songwriting abilities. Adding only what the track needs to lift its quality, the drumming never follows the familiar road of power-mongering. Predictably for this kind of music there is a lack of bass guitar. Barely audible, the bass is definitely overshadowed by everything else in the mix. None of these members are particularly proffesional, but they are competent enough to make interesting, basic tracks. A big part of HU’s sound is the hip-hop elements and the electronic aspects are never far away. Permeating almost every song, the sampling, programming and synthesising of member ‘J-Dog’ are everywhere. Tracks like ‘California’ have an ever-present array of effects throughout their run-time. Samples like the one during the line in No. 5 “Like, oh my God is that Charlie Scene?” and “Zelda” after a questionable Nintendo reference abound on this disc, solidifying Hollywood Undead’s hip-hop meets hard rock sound.
The lyrics are laughable, even occasionally terrible, but they’re part of the whole, crazy theme they’ve got going for them. In the end, it’s nothing that hasn’t been said before, and absolutely nothing that’s going to inspire and amazing behaviour. The lyrical themes revolve around drinking, brawling, sex and partying. So the obviously cringe worthy lyrical matter is not really a detractor from the topic in the slightest.
In the end, the only reason to listen to this album is for pure enjoyment; for fun, for dancing and partying to and screaming along with the ridiculous lyrics. If you’re looking for foolish fun and the above content, then you’ve come to the RIGHT party.
*Sell Your Soul
*Everywhere I Go
Hollywood Undead are pretty bad as a band, but if you think of them as just a bunch of random dudes with fake names who make fun music with crappy lyrics you can see the funny side and the music just becomes fun. In fact, this could've been the review.
This is not only filled with bad lyrics and lame musicanship. This is boring as hell, doesn't bring anything new to the table and adds to the rap rock mix really shitty crunk elements. Dude we have really solid rap rock stuff like beastie boys RATM, Biohazard, 311, Cypress Hill, Nonpoint, Old linkin park, some P.O.D stuff and more, Hollywood undead is a complete waste of space.