Gym Class Heroes

As Cruel as School Children

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Implementing live instruments instead of looped samples or beats -- and helmed by the quick tongue of MC Travis McCoy -- there's really no denying the enjoyable affair that is Gym Class Heroes' As Cruel as School Children. Launching with the booty-shaking "The Queen and I," the Heroes prove straightaway that they've got enough confidence, catchy rhythms, and sense of melody amid all their tight grooves and emo hipster instincts to keep things moving right along. Being a hip-hop outfit largely residing in the world of the Warped Tour, it somehow makes sense that Arrested Development's Speech makes an appearance ("Biters Block") alongside guys like William Beckett from the Academy Is... ("7 Weeks") and Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump (on the eccentric "Clothes Off!"). But while this combination of influences largely works to Gym Class Heroes' musical advantage and overall appeal, there's still something that makes their music seem not quite like a novelty and more like a fleeting pleasure. How long can a song based on Myspace relationships ("New Friend Request") really last before lines like "My man Tom introduced us but I was too shy to say hi" or "I never see my face in your Top 8" become more annoying than witty? And even if hitting topics like the life of a touring band and calling out fake, trendy music is relevant, by now it just seems more a cliché. The band's sincerity isn't in question and Gym Class Heroes are a talented crew. But ultimately, it's this standard spring of inspiration that keeps As Cruel as School Children from being much else than a perfect hangout record for summer 2006.

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