Blackout: a Schizophrenic Good Time
By
Sam Gordon
4/17/2003 9:55:45 PM

I dare you to sit still for (hed)Planet Earth’s latest release, Blackout [Jive]. In fact, it’s probably flat-out impossible to sit still without at least tapping a foot or a finger, bobbing your head, or maybe just careening through a highway guardrail at a hundred miles an hour. Blackout’s got a mix of emotions going on, with some of the songs, like its first track, the new radio hit, “Suck it Up,” which is reminiscent of old Incubus and unlike anything else on the album. As the theme song to John Madden’s Football video game, this track should keep the album selling for a good long time.

Lately, it seems, (hed)PE is dabbling in a little bit of everything musically: rap-rock, electronics effects, delicate jazzy harmonies, screaming out rage, and out-and-out power metal. Blackout is a little schizophrenic, but maybe that’s the point. Lead singer Jahred says he wrote most of the songs during a bad time when he felt suicidal and double-crossed by his so-called friends. You’ll find a lot of the lyrics refer to these feelings, which are probably best illustrated in the title track with lines like: my soul is packing its bags and leaving.

Vocally, though, Jahred’s never sounded better, and can turn from a screaming demon one minute to sounding like Donald Fagen, that classic rock dude from Steely Dan. It’s true that (hed)PE’s sounds are not all that new in and of themselves, but it’s refreshing to hear them reworked with little surprises, like when track #7, “Sha-la-la,” fades off into a Jimi-Hendrix-ish guitar riff. They’ve also got the buoyant humor of the old Limp Bizkit happening (from the days before they became parodies of themselves). Infused with a liberal dose of dirty lyrics and sad despair, this album might just be the thing to crank with the windows open on a summer night as you’re racing down that highway. Destination: away.

 

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