When Gym Class Heroes released 2006’s As Cruel As School Children, it wasn’t perceived immediately as being a big hit. The band had their core fan base, but the focus was more on labelmates Fall Out Boy, Panic At The Disco, and The Academy Is…. Then the band released a remix cut of “Cupid’s Chokehold,” which was originally featured on 2005’s Papercut Chronicles. That song turned everything around for the band, as Travis McCoy and company crashed the mainstream.
GCH look to continue that same line of success while progressing as a band with the release of The Quilt, but what we hear throughout the album is that that line is hard to toe, as the band falls off every now and then.
I can tell you that this is Gym Class Heroes most diverse album, as well as their most rock and hip-hop album. How is that possible? Well, that’s where the variety pops its head in. Tracks like the incredibly catchy “Cookie Jar” (which features The-Dream on the hook) and “Peace Sign/Index Down” (where Busta Rhymes lends a verse) display the hip-hop elements of the band well, with stellar production from Tricky Stewart and Cool & Dre, respectively. But “Don’t Tell Me It’s Over” is probably the best hip-hop song I’ve heard from the band. McCoy brings the fire and displays his swagger throughout, commanding your attention and bringing his best lyrics out.
As for the rock/full band element, guitar riffs from Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo scatter in and out on “Cookie Jar,” while horns pepper opener “Guilty As Charged.” “Drnk Txt Rmeo” channels Sublime and “Blinded by the Sun” touches briefly on ska, samples Corey Hart’s “Sunglasses At Night,” and features vocals from Fall Out Boy crooner Patrick Stump. “Live Forever (Fly With Me)” is probably a track the band is very proud of, as the famed Daryl Hall, a seven-minute journey that soars as Disashi shines on guitar again.
The fusion of hip-hop and rock comes into full focus with “Home,” “which begins with a screeching guitar riff from Disashi and bounces into a nice beat produced by Cool & Dre. Some missteps on the record though include the incredibly cheesy “Like Father, Like Son (Papa’s Song),” which has good intentions but terrible execution. The album closer, “Coming Clean,” feels out of place and clunky, ending the album on a weird note.
The Quilt is a very conflicting record for this reviewer. Musically, this album is fantastic for the most part. The fusion of hip-hop and rock is balanced very nicely. But the biggest killer on the album is McCoy’s lyrics. Granted, he does spit out a few gems, but his metaphors are lacking and his concepts are thin. He does improve on his vocal delivery though, but not enough to overcome his lyrical duds. The biggest question is if The Quilt will carry on the mainstream success As Cruel As School Children began. Early numbers with the two singles (“Cookie Jar” and “Peace Sign/Index Down”) don’t look too promising, but if they release the right track, they could be right back on the radio. The difficult part is finding that track. For now though, The Quilt serves more of a conflicting blanket, with a band confused on who they want to be wrapped up in the middle of it.