Hollywood Undead - 'Psalms' EP Review
1. Bloody Nose
2. Live Fast Die Young
3. Something to Believe
4. Another Level
5. Gotta Let Go
Rap is an occasional guilty pleasure of mine, despite my outward appearance as a stuffy, high-art Prog fan (or a scruffy lo-fi Grunge fan... take your pick). Things like The Beastie Boys, Bloodhound Gang, Cypress Hill and King Fantastic have all found their way into my music collection, and will often find me surreptitiously tapping my foot, but other than the name being familiar Hollywood Undead are a new one on me, well worth a look I thought.
'Psalms' is a surprise release from the band (I checked, they play instruments and everything, so it's a viable description) with a couple of the tracks having been teased ahead of its official release. Five tracks appear on the EP and in the absence of any other way of approaching it, I'll just go through each track with a couple of thoughts. Kicking us off is "Bloody Nose" a tune which sounds like it's about being on the receiving end of a lot of hassle and just getting on anyway. It opens as a fairly atmospheric track, musically building from a sample and drums on the intro and verse with guitars kicking in under the chorus, kicking off about halfway through with an aggressive start to the middle 8 section before paring back ahead of kicking back into the chorus. After that fairly angry opening salvo, we move onto "Live Fast Die Young" a more relaxed tune all told, giving a reprieve from the raw aggression that kept bursting out of the opener.
"Something To Believe" follows and here we seem to have a lot more synth pads in the backing music used to great effect. "Another Level" feels very much like it is touching on the usual rap touchstones lyrically (evidently it's not a paean to the boy-band of the same name). With a chorus washed with reverb and single note buzz-saw bass-synth lines, it has a certain air of menace.
"Gotta Let Go" is a cheery upbeat closing tune with a reminiscence of the vocalist's youth perhaps wondering how they got to where they are now, not suggesting that it's a bad place to be, just that it might not have been what they expected or what they had dreamed of in their youth. Wrapped in an upbeat cheery sounding vocal melody and tune it feels like a good note for the EP to close on.
In my review, I have avoided trying to second guess the meanings of the lyrics because it's not my job to dissect the whole thing and knowing me I'd wind up barking up the wrong tree entirely, but I have ventured some vague guesses here and there. All in all, I could certainly see myself popping this EP on from time to time as it is a very coherent listen, musically very well balanced between the harder edged material and other moments which are framed in a lighter way like the closing track "Gotta Let Go" and varied enough in this small collection to remain interesting throughout.
Website - www.hollywoodundead.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/hollywoodundead/
Review - Mike McLaughlin