Sound — 4
Trapt has spent the last few years keeping themselves busy. They've bullied local bands, sparked arguments through their racist and ultraconservative Facebook posts, and busked around the US on a nostalgia tour hoping to scrape together enough cash to make a new album. With all that going on, it really shouldn't be a surprise that they couldn't find time in their hectic schedule to write some decent music, which is why "DNA," despite its title, sounds ironically lifeless.
The album starts with an intro track, wonderfully named "Intro," which serves as more of a premonition than an introduction, serving of 40 seconds of nothing but static to let the listener know just how engaging the next near-dozen songs will be. After that you're treated to the same verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus you've been bombarded with since day 1. It's a lazy effort if it can even be called an effort at all. There's no variation in the guitar work, no interesting interplay with the instruments. I can't even remember if there's a guitar solo, which means if you ignore the choppy lyricism and repetitive structure because this band used to pull some interesting riffs out of a place of inspiration that's still too high on the shelf for singer Chris Taylor Brown to reach, there's really just nothing there for you anymore.
Songs are haphazardly arranged, there's no real heart coursing through the album. "It's Over" is the third track on the album, but it could easily be the last, since it has just about as much energy and drive as any of the other 10 songs, the only difference being its name would give more of a sense of climax than the actual closer "Fallen Angel." Know that before you finished reading that last sentence I already yawned at the title and song. A hard rock band writing a song called "Fallen Angel," it's about as original as it is catchy.
The worst offense about the overall sound of the album, though is that it's not even horrifically bad. It's not ear-splitting, it's definitely not good, either, it's just... boring. I know hard rock's been stagnant for the past few years but this just hits the middle so hard it doesn't even make an impression. This could honestly get away with being called hard rock elevator music. Bob your head to "Not So Different" while you head up to floor 12 to meet your coworker to discuss this month's pen sales, I promise by the time you leave the elevator car you'll forget what you just heard.
Lyrics — 3
Unfortunately, while the music doesn't really egg you on, Chris Taylor Brown's lyrics most certainly will. Brown talked about how having "debates" on Facebook helped fuel his lyrics, asking questions that could be signed off with "Make America Great Again" like whether saying "treat women equally" has inherent double standards or discussing guns or how great the cops are after they killed another woman over a turn signal dispute. The problem here, though, is that while he might say this inspired him, it really doesn't show on the album.
While the idea of complex moral questions and politics that aren't just "our current leader sucks" would make interesting music (while admittedly being way out of Brown's range of intelligence), we're instead treated to the same break-up, beat-down music Trapt has been shoveling out for the past decade, with much less subtlety. "I used you like a drug, now I know that I am done" has all the originality and grace of the "Ghostbusters" remake, and "You had a secret, couldn't keep it, now we'll never be the same" whiffs, any connection to the listener broken by the fact that you've probably heard this line since you were 15.
It doesn't stop there, though. Half the songs through this album are made up of title choruses, i.e. just saying the song's title over and over again. "It's Over," "Not So Different," and "Getting Even," are all given this treatment in variously annoying iterations. My personal favorite is the middle of these three, where, and I counted, for 20 seconds you only hear the constant repeated phrase of "We're not so different," not only with no breaths in between, but layered at some parts, it's maddening.
Outside of the complaints there's really nothing else to say about the album's lyricism, there's only bad and negligible. There's not one outstanding line, nothing that made me go "wow," not even anything for overdramatic 16 year olds to make twitter posts about because even THEY'VE heard it a hundred times before.
No need to bring back "Fallen Angel," either, is there? Should I really go look up how many other bands have a cookie-cutter sad song with the same name? Wikipedia mentions 58, I'm sure that's just barely scratching the surface.
Overall Impression — 4
I'm sure I don't need to tell you Trapt is a band past their prime. I'm sure the phrase "Trapt is past their prime" is past its prime, that's how long these guys have been lumbering around trying to stay relevant. "DNA," as a crowdfunded album, could be called a success, in the sense that they got their money, they made their album, it's out in stores. Unfortunately, as an "album" and as "objectively graded music" it's a record destined to die in the bargain bin.
I'm sure you weren't gonna buy this album anyway, so telling you not to would be falling on deaf ears, but I hope if nothing else you know that you made the right choice, and if anyone was still on the fence, "DNA" will without a doubt drop them on to your side. Trapt, being the Trump supporters they are, are currently on the "Make America Rock Again" tour to try and bring rock music back to the masses. Here's hoping they learn how to do it themselves before they start trying to teach us.