With infectious pop melodies and punk aggression, Billy Talent come close to perfect mainstream punk rock...
It's been three-years since the release of Toronto-based quartet Billy Talent's self-titled debut album back in 2003; the debut that went platinum three times over in their native Canada achieved widespread success in Europe and earned them an intensely loyal fan base in the US. Since then, with over a decade of hard work behind them and a regime of non-stop touring (most recently in the UK, with a special appearance at this year's Download festival) Billy Talent are now set to make a comeback with their second album, the ever so imaginatively titled, 'Billy Talent II'.
From the off, it is easy to see why Billy Talent appeal to so many people and attract such a loyal following of fans. With 'Billy Talent II' the band seem to take the best of everything; perfect pop melodies without being throw-away, punk politics without being overbearing, they capture passionate, emotional intensity without simply sounding like they're having a whinge, and add a healthy helping of angular aggression without loosing any of their mainstream-punk accessibility.
'Devil In A Midnight Mass', the first explosive single to be taken from the album, is the perfect introduction to what you can expect from the next fifty minutes of music; its fast-paced, winding guitars, intense and passionate vocals and instantly memorable melodies are mixed with shouted punk choruses and urgent harmonies, before it bursts without warning into the infectious, hyperactive chants of the politically charged dance-floor filler, 'Red Flag'.
And from there on, pick any song at random and it's exactly the same story. Huge catchy hooks and earnest lyrics deal with big issues with the help of even bigger melodies – Billy Talent create songs that you can really get your teeth into and truely believe in. From the Green Day-tinged, snotty punk sneer of 'Fallen Leaves' to the far-reaching, frenzied urgency of 'Covered In Cowardice' and the aggressive, brash anger of 'Perfect World', the band let rip with one volatile yet addictively catchy song after another.
Perhaps it's no coincidence that the album was mixed by Chris Lord-Alge, who was also responsible for Green Day's 2005 big seller; without a doubt, in terms of commercial success, 'Billy Talent II' is perfectly capable of becoming this year's 'American Idiot' with their irresistible mixture of punk aggression and perfect pop harmonies. While fans of accessible or mainstream punk and rock will be in their element, anyone with who knows a good melody when they hear one would be hard pressed to find fault with this collection.