Review Summary: A musical style moderation with advantages and consequences.
Album: Start Something
Release Date: February 2, 2004
When Lostprophets made Start Something, they were making a conscious effort towards appealing to the masses. The heaviness and obscurity of The Fake Sound Of Progress, whilst not completely gone, has been relegated and in its place we find marketability and catchiness. This may cause a jump to the 'sell out' label so many albums are stamped with, but Lostprophets are still conscious of their roots, it's just been softened for the sake of attainability. They've purposefully changed their music to fit the mould of pop punk and old features can be looked back on and missed, but the new Prophets musical direction works for them.
One of the most easily notable changes in the shift is Ian Watkins. The vocalist has unfortunately taken one step forward and two steps back in Start Something. A heavily critiqued point is the singer's lack of the raw emotion he delivered on FSOP, sacrificing it instead for the rectification of his voice ofttimes 'cloudiness'. The vocals are now much more distinguished and cleaner, no longer getting lost in the rhythm section but at the cost of the harsh brutality he occasionally flexed. Watkins has left a memento to his older days with "We Are Godzilla, You are Japan", a stand out track of chugged riffs, audible bass and a Mike Patton-esque vocal quality, but other then that the screams are heavily restricted, used mainly as background supplication to chorus and breakdown. Lost also are the peculiar and enticing lyrics, now replaced with straightforward, targeting our core demographic, forgettable lines. They aren't bad necessarily, they just feel like less effort and depth has been put into them.
The other hard knock the Prophets face is in Stuart Richardson's bass playing, or lack thereof. We can attribute this to shifting genre where bass is characteristically inaudible and Mike Lewis' conversion from bass to rhythm guitar, causing the bass to take a back seat as a mere guitar supplicant. The guitar itself does well, often breaking in with high toned and exhilarating play from Lee Gaze which rises above the rhythm guitar, epitomized in "To Hell We Ride". Mike Chiplin's play is a fairly neutral standpoint, he keeps a decent beat with occasional flairs of creativity, but he makes his role clear as strict rhythm backup and nothing more. The musicianship of the album as a whole is mediocre, maybe even generic in style with a few glimpses of innovation, but really the guitar is the standout with the rhythm department doing as it's told.
Lostprophets make a go of this new catchy, reachable outlook and manage to produce what they wanted. "Wake Up", "Burn Burn" and "Last Train Home" are all decent, though too standard for my taste. All comprise of the same upbeat, anthem atmosphere they were trying to attain, made obvious in the lyric repetition found throughout the album i.e. "Burn Burn, for us, for them, for you". The band do manage to produce two noteworthy tracks with their more individual spin of this in "We Still Kill The Old Way" and "A Million Miles", but almost to balance it the Prophets are subject to mindless filler for the first time, as can be seen in the mundane "Hello Again" and "Goodbye Tonight". The only track where I really feel some advancement and experimentation from their older work is in "I Don't Know", a distinguishable track from the rest with alien musical influences, the guitar and bass even touching upon jazz at points. Lostprophets do pay tribute to their roots, almost taking a stand, with the continuance of their "random endings" (such as the phone message at the end of "A Million Miles").
Overall, Lostprophets have done what they set out to do, make an album which would usher them into the mainstream but without the full fledged image and style change that has left so many band's old fans disgruntled. They're poppier, they can now be taken at face value in a lot of their songs and there's a certain depth missing that was present in the The Fake Sound Of Progress, but Start Something is still a good record with the accessibility to new listeners but fan service to the old.