Sound — 6
Papa Roach have taken one step further away from the rapcore style that made records like Infest distinctive and original. With the band's latest release The Paramour Sessions, a bit more rapping might have made it stand out more than it does. Unfortunately, the straightforward rock sound is overly basic at times and not as melodically interesting. While guitarist Jerry Horton adds licks here and there that do break up the monotony, The Paramour Sessions takes a formulaic approach to both the music and the lyrics, resulting in very few songs making a huge impression.
The weakest aspect of the new album is the first single, ...to Be Loved. While there is nothing wrong with taking new paths in music, Papa Roach (vocalist Jacoby Shaddix, guitarist Horton, bassist Tobin Esperance, and drummer Dave Buckner) gets a little too close to sounding like a pop-punk band in this one. The verses begin with plenty of expletive-ridden passion like any rowdy rock tune, but the chorus suddenly explodes into a series of whoas that feel more pop than rock. ...to Be Loved sounds too much like a forced single and a contrived anthem in the attempt to be more accessible for audiences that have eaten up emo and pop rock.
While much of The Paramour Sessions is plagued by repetitive and basic chord-driven rock, My Heart Is A Fist has a bit more of an interesting feel. The song starts off with what sounds like the intro from Janie's Got A Gun but then takes various musical turns throughout it's duration. There is more intricacy involved with this track, and even the chorus has more than just chords backing it up. Underneath the chorus' prominent and passionate vocals, a guitar riff effectively supports the melody. If the band would put the creativity that is heard in My Heart Is A Fist into every song on The Paramour Sessions, the CD would be a very worthwhile listen.
Vocalist Jacoby Shaddix should be given credit for his strong vocals throughout the record. While many of the songs may seem uninspired, his vocal ability seems to have gotten stronger and help the weaker songs along. Unfortunately, vocals cannot save mediocre songwriting in the end. The majority of tracks feel very much the same and have the angry, woe-is-me theme that prevails in the songs gets tiresome in the end.
Lyrics — 5
The lyrics are the weakest aspect of The Paramour Sessions, primarily because the themes -- as well as the rhymes -- are just way too basic and cliche. When you know exactly what Shaddix is going to sing before he sings it, that is a sign that there is not much new that is coming to the table.
One example is in Alive (N' Out Of Control), which features a series of lyrics that just get a bit predictable. Shaddix sings, Sick of the pain; I'm sick of the sorrow; Sick of today; I'm sick of tomorrow. You might expect to hear this from a band recording it's first record, but not one that's going on it's fourth album.
The band was obviously inspired by some tough times, and any band that displays that honesty deserves to be given credit. Many of the songs deal with how to regain that self-esteem and power, but many times it doesn't quite work. In the song ...to Be Loved, the words are just too contrived to take seriously. Shaddix sings, I came to get down; To get some f--king respect; Taking it back to a hardcore level. The overblown lyrics just don't relay the tough attitude that the song probably meant to, particularly when the chorus of the song takes a pop-like turn with it's abundance of whoas.
Overall Impression — 6
With over a decade in the music industry, Papa Roach has written plenty of good songs that have expressed an individuality about the band that took them to a higher notoriety. The band does not necessarily need to bring back the rapcore element, but The Paramour Sessions needs more of the inventive hooks that were heard in songs like The Last Resort. The band has taken a huge leap away from the sound that defined them and it could alienate many of it's fans.
While Shaddix's vocals are strong as ever, the songs' weaknesses don't allow the strengths to come to the forefront. Guitarist Jerry Horton has memorable guitar work on Alive (N' Out Of Control), but that creativity unfortunately does not show up as a saving grace enough of the time on The Paramour Sessions.