Lostprophets: Liberations Transmission
Career-defining third album from rock superstars to be
You might have heard it. The first single from ‘Liberation Transmission’ is called ‘Rooftops (A Liberation Broadcast)’. It’s all over the radio, for one thing, and it’s hanging around the music video channels like a stubborn yeast infection. It looks like it could well be the feelgood hit of the summer. It features a chorus so infectious it should really be approached wearing a radioactive suit and a condom over each finger. “Standing on the roof tops,” sings frontman Ian Watkins, “everybody scream your heart out”. This is just 10 words and probably no more than four chords, but it’s a chorus that will stay with you like hepatitis. At first, you might not know what it is, but it’s there. Waiting for the bus, you’ll be humming it; feeding the cat, you’ll be humming it; in the shower in the morning wiping yesterday from your eyes, you’ll be humming it.
When it comes to genre-hopping, it’s usually the beautiful people that get the recognition: the Bobby Gillespies, the Damon Albarns, the creative brains behind Gnarls Barkley. It might seem odd to include in this list a working-class Welsh quintet whose appeal (and derision) has sprung largely from the pages of the metal press. But ‘Liberation Transmission’ blends styles like flavours in a milkshake. You will not notice the joins.
There’s pop here, there’s metal, there’s popular punk, there’s bits you can dance to, there’s moments that might make it on to Radio 2, and there are songs that will cause a riot of moshpit-mayhem at any rock club in any town in the land. Take your pick. Out of a riff that borders on being a physical assault will spring a refrain so catchy it makes Kaiser Chiefs sound like Kraftwerk. I’m not sure what the collective noun for great choruses is, but on these 12 songs let’s say it’s a contagion.
These are the simple mechanics: this CD has at least seven potential smash hit songs on it. Bankers – the kind of tunes that lead to albums selling a billion copies. Songs such as ‘Everyday Combat’ (where you too will be “dancing in the de-militarized zone”), ‘The New Transmission’ or ‘Can’t Stop, Gotta Date With Hate’ are as impossible to ignore as the World Cup. To go with this are the ‘album tracks’, of which every one is a stormer. Lostprophets claim that they approached each number on this album as if it were the one song that would represent them. Of course, groups tend to say this kind of thing quite a lot. Here, though, you can believe it.
By doing this, the band have crafted space for themselves, and created a sound that is pretty much their own. They don’t belong to any scene, and as you join them now they are truly rising into their own. This album should put them in the same league as Fall Out Boy, Foo Fighters and The Killers while being entirely different from them. I mean, they’re as cute, musically, as Green Day. They can handle themselves in whatever company you care to dump them.
And what company might that be? Following an album (2004’s ‘Start Something’) that shifted a cool million and a half copies, it could be that the ’Prophets are about to find fame in a manner that’s virtually fluorescent. To which the band say, “Great! What are we waiting for?” And this makes a nice change. Because if you want evidence that Lostprophets are really good take a look at some of the people who despise them. Pious, long-faced emo-rock pricks who believe that music should be about earnest confessionals and pain they haven’t earned, all of it solemnly crafted by people who look exactly like your mates from the pub. For five years now such people have been predicting the death of Lostprophets, but they’ve outlasted them all. Wanna know why? Because mates down the pub are all well and good, but you’re not about to pay money to watch them play a gig now, are you?
So let’s celebrate. Let’s celebrate an album that aspires to something; that features both musical quality and star quality; that comes from streets just as rugged as those concerning Arctic Monkeys, but makes something entirely different from them. Lostprophets are big and brash and brilliant. And this is rock’n’roll radio.