Hard-Off Review

artist: Bloodhound Gang date: 01/05/2016 category: compact discs
Bloodhound Gang: Hard-Off
Released: Dec 18, 2015
Genre: Comedy Rock, Alternative Rock, Dance Pop
Label: Interscope
Number Of Tracks: 11
Returning a decade after their commercial-flopping fourth album, Bloodhound Gang's fifth album, "Hard-Off," simply reanimates their stale, sophomoric demeanor.
 Sound: 4
 Lyrics: 3
 Overall Impression: 3
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overall: 3.3
Hard-Off Featured review by: UG Team, on january 05, 2016
1 of 4 people found this review helpful

Sound: With their first hit single "Fire Water Burn" being a stylistic amalgam of 311's rap rock, Cake's deadpan delivery, and Beck's self-effacing "Loser," Bloodhound Gang's initial rise to fame was arguably a perfect storm in the music world at the time. The increasing trendiness of their style at the turn of the millennium had the band hitting their apex, where their third album, 2000's "Hooray for Boobies," not only continued their flavor-of-the-month rap metal sound, but also struck a new vein of gold with their satirical dance pop single, "The Bad Touch," became a hit.

But by the time Bloodhound Gang were gearing up for their next album, rap rock had worn out its welcome and became not just outdated, but criminally uncool. They would try to adapt to this change in the music world, with their 2005 album, "Hefty Fine," stepping away from the rap rock and investing equally in a generic alt-rock style and "The Bad Touch"-reverberating dance pop, but it failed to captivate. Furthermore, the band's signature characteristic of being absurdly obscene lyrically had also lost its value at this point - back in the '90s, the practice of egregious profanity was considered edgy and "avant-garde" for challenging censorship culture in America; now, that practice was a dime a dozen. With all this, "Hefty Fine" ended up being a hefty flop critically.

Bloodhound Gang still remained a functioning band afterwards, though they'd struggle for years trying to finish a fifth album. After going in circles year after year about nearing completion of an album but not following through with it, they've finally released their fifth album, "Hard-Off," ten years since their last studio album. Despite all the time that's passed, though, little growth has been made in the band's sound. Generally, the album divvies up into Bloodhound Gang's three expected styles: simple-plodding, Weezer-derived alt-rock (in "My Dad Says That's for Pussies," "Uncool as Me," "Socially Awkward Penguin," and the softer, acoustic-driven "American Bitches"); parody dance pop (in "Dimes," "Clean Up in Aisle Sexy," and the specific jab at euro-dance in "Diary of a Stranger"); and hip hop (in "Chew Toy," the modular-driven "Think Outside the Box," and the morose but dragged-out "We're Gonna Bring the Party to You"). For all intents and purposes, nothing has changed.

That's not to say that Bloodhound Gang doesn't try to improve, at least. Though frontman Jimmy Pop's falsetto moments have always been cringe-worthy (though likely self-intended), more harmonies pop up alongside his droll vocals to spruce up the melodies (heard in "My Dad Says That's for Pussies," "American Bitches," "Uncool as Me," and the jokey barbershop quartet outro of "Bumblebees"). And while the alt-rock cuts on the album are as drab as can be in terms of arrangements and progressions, there's more color to be found in the other songs, like the chiptune-rich sounds of "Diary of a Stranger," or the flamenco-style acoustic melody in "Think Outside the Box." But with the recycled tricks ultimately outweighing anything new five-fold (just the overused rave arpeggios alone are an oversaturated level of lather-rinse-repeat), the sound of "Hard-Off" offers little adventure. // 4

Lyrics: Even more entrenched in its comfort zone than the music are the lyrics in "Hard-Off," where Jimmy Pop churns out his expected topics. Along with hyperbolically projecting on both sides of the self-esteem spectrum (from the sex-crazed braggadocio of "Dimes," "Chew Toy," and "Clean Up in Aisle Sexy," to the self-deprecating loser-ism of "Uncool as Me," "Socially Awkward Penguin," and the groupie-scolding "Think Outside the Box"), Pop also delivers over-amplified machismo in the form of satirized Dad opinions in "My Dad Says That's For Pussies" (going so far as to bash toilet paper, Gandhi, and the Treaty of Versailles).

In all this, of course, Pop religiously maintains his lowest of low-brow articulation, rife with "your mom" jokes ("This ain't your mom (not every dick gets in)" in "We're Gonna Bring the Party to You,"), ridiculing easy targets (like "Turned on, but it feels so wrong, like when you relate to a Nickelback song" in "Chew Toy"), and pubescent-entertaining wordplay ("Retard and feathered, withdrawn and quartered" in "We're Gonna Bring the Party to You") - all of which have a wit plagued with dated miasma. But the stupidest and grossest lyrical moment of the album goes to "Diary of a Stranger," a song that is literally just about throwing up after seeing diarrhea in a toilet - it's just as much of a lyrical low point in contemporary music as it is the peak of Bloodhound Gang's reason to be. // 3

Overall Impression: Bloodhound Gang's shtick of being irreverent and over-the-top offensive was made to thrive in the face of decriers (as is nearly all offensive art), but it grew old and irrelevant a long time ago - both due to the band's failure to stay fresh and interesting, and due to a music culture that moved on from wanting more than aimless explicitness. Since their initial crash a decade ago, their returning album "Hard-Off" doesn't offer any augmentations to the band, but simply has Bloodhound Gang dusting off their calling card and playing to their strengths in hope of a second wind. But after all this time, they only sound a decade staler than they did before. // 3

- Sam Mendez (c) 2016

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