Californians Papa Roach have done a succinct job of keeping themselves relevant since the release of their breakout album Infest back in 2000 – giving birth to classic hits such as ‘Last Resort’ and ‘Broken Home’. While ultimately the band would peak here, the quartet managed to maintain a large following throughout the deterioration of nu metal during the late 2000’s, amassing an impressive 20 million album sales in their 24-year tenure as a band.
Not quite ready to take their feet completely off the accelerator just yet, Crooked Teeth is the band’s latest stab at remaining in the limelight for a few years longer. While the record holds blatant attempts at including youth within it, it’s these clambers for a youthful sound that hold Crooked Teeth back – and stop it from being able to be included in the conversation of the nu-metallers best work.
Vocalist Jacoby Shaddix has always had an element of a rap style in his vocals, but the full departure to hip-hop fused beats from the frontman that flutter in and out of the record are somewhat jarring, to say the least. Most apparent in ‘Break The Fall’ and ‘Sunrise Trailer Park’ with the latter featuring Machine Gun Kelly – this particular style of vocal comes across less like a band discovering how to appeal to a young audience of today, and more like your 50-year-old uncle dancing awkwardly at a wedding.
It’s not Shaddix’s attempt at rapping which tends to hold Crooked Teeth back the most however. The bubblegum, sweeter than sweet, Good Charlotte-esque moments on the record are ill-calculated misfires. With ‘Born For Greatness’ in particular being more akin to new Fall Out Boy than anything else, which wouldn’t be as much of an issue if Papa Roach were able to pull the style off in a genuine manner; however this is not the case.
As is standard procedure in Papa Roach records, it’s the choruses in Crooked Teeth which hold some winning formula – with the title track and ‘Help’ in particular being highlights from the record. ‘Help’ has everything a Roach song needs to be a mainstay in their live setlist: simple, big chorus, hooking melodies from Shaddix. Classic Papa Roach. It’s a welcome burst of energy and quick-fire into an album that often overly flatters itself.
While it’s become clear that Papa Roach most likely won’t create a triple platinum album ever again, Crooked Teeth holds moments that show there’s life in the beast yet. The attempts at youthful exuberance will probably fall on deaf ears, however, Papa Roach are a band that rightfully made their name a long time ago, and anyone that’s stuck around for the ride this long will probably be happy to stay on a little longer.