Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Lostprophets - Weapons (RCA)

Lostprophets are a band who’ve yet to produce an album anything close to sub-par. Their singles catalogue is a line-up of vigorous, charismatic Britrock gems, while their track record of albums is arguably even more impressive. Their brand of intense, brawny rock hasn’t waned for a single bar in a 12-year career, and fifth album Weapons suggests it won’t be happening anytime soon.

Admittedly, they could still get away with the raucous drama of The Fake Sound of Progress if they wanted, given they don't actually appear to age. But rather than opting to rest on their laurels, there's a definite progression on Weapons, and it does them good.

It would be wrong to say they’ve mellowed – it's still heavy, it's still powerful, it's still assertive. The big licks of A Song For Where I’m From don’t hold back, while the confrontational call-to-arms We Bring An Arsenal has all the gusto of Shinobi vs Dragon Ninja. But as a band, they sound tighter than they've ever sounded, making for a clean, more immediate tone.

Somedays shows a softer tone to Ian Watkins' vocals, while the secret track tacked onto closer Can’t Get Enough balances melodic splendour with a balls-out metal screech. Meanwhile, the countless man-hours spent during promotional rounds in a post-Linkin Park world where the band were forced to explain how they weren’t rock-rap were evidently in vain, with Better Off Dead seeing Watkins spit a few unexpected verses. It’s novel enough, and functions nicely as a mid-album surprise, but hopefully it’s not a hint of a more permanent direction.

But there’s little to be said about Weapons that isn’t sickeningly positive. As an album, it’s absorbing, it’s entertaining, it’s rousing, and it keeps Lostprophets’ perfect scoresheet intact. And they make maintaining this level of quality seem like a breeze. Everything that’s ever been great about Lostprophets is still very much in place, but it’s been honed and polished into an effective, engaging update. They must be frickin’ exhausted.

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