The Deal: Hip-hop hitmakers release fourth album, follow-up to 2006's gold As Cruel as School Children.
The Good: The band isn't looking to break out of its hit-making mold, combining hip-hop with a live band. The album kicks off with the hook-heavy "Guilty as Charged" featuring Estelle. There are also guest appearances by Busta Rhymes and Darryl Hall. Rhymes is featured on "Peace Sign/Index Down," a song the band played at this year's Warped Tour featuring the chorus, "Fuck you, this is for my family" – reminding me of Rage's "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me." School Children had a lot of weak, filler tracks on it, but this one runs solid from start to finish. "Catch Me If You Can" sounded like an outtake from Outkast.
The Bad: "Drnk Txt Rmeo" aims to play off the "technology" theme of "New Friend Request," but the reggae vibe seems a little out-of-place and the lyrics feel kinda cheesy. They go for the same vibe on "Blinded By the Sun" which is nearly ska. Including Rhymes was a good idea as he fits right in, but he makes singer Travis McCoy's voice sound weak. "Cookie Jar" sounded like typical, bad top 40 hip-hop. "Live a Little" sounded like a Fall Out Boy outtake.
The Verdict: Plenty of hooks that will get them plenty of airplay. The band keeps it fun and it should be enough to ride the wave of hype from the last album. Unfortunately, it all starts to sound the same after a few tracks.