A success on their own, aggressively populist terms.
Louis Pattison 2010-01-07
Someone up there likes Lostprophets. What other act, in this blighted age, would be able to get away with shipping out to LA, splashing out half a million dollars on their fourth album, and then scrapping it and starting again? Well, Guns N’Roses, perhaps, but that’s the point: this is a band acting like members of rock’s A-list.
Luckily, The Betrayed, for the most part, has the good grace to sound like it. Their fourth album sounds big – polished, even – and helpfully, that’s a quality that suits them rather well. Of all the acts to rise out of the UK’s nu-metal and post-hardcore scenes last decade, it was Lostprophets who boasted the firmest mainstream sensibilities, blending impressive riffs with a melodic edge inspired by 80s new romantic pop. Uncool? Probably – teenage girls like them, which is obviously the kiss of death if you want to be a credible rock band. But it did, at least, feel like Lostprophets’ passions were utterly genuine.
They are at their best, certainly, when they remember to include the heavy. Dstryr / Dstryr is brutal funk-metal with shades of Rage Against the Machine, frontman Ian Watkins shrieking silly apocalyptic doggerel like a Manga superhero – “Religion needs a new employer / I’ve got the rope you need to hang your Jesus even higher!” – and Next Stop Atro City is stop-start screamo in the vein of 90s Swedish punk troupe Refused.
Elsewhere, it’s more of a mixed bag. Forays into lighter, ska-tinged realms are a surprising success – For He’s a Jolly Good Felon blends choppy guitar, terrace sing-alongs and even a spot of Wurlitzer with some style. Somewhat testier is Where We Belong, a deliberately grand tear-jerker that reaches for the epic but strays a little too far into schmaltz.
Of course, that’s an occupational hazard for Lostprophets, but The Betrayed is not an underachieving record. It sweats hunger and ambition, and while it’s not flawless, it’s a success on their own, aggressively populist terms: 11 songs of big riffs and earworm choruses that reach over the moshpit to the stands beyond.