Hollywood Undead

Swan Songs

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Zombies or not, Hollywood Undead are a true underground phenomenon. They built their reputation through word of mouth on social networking sites such as MySpace, and it was to the latter's fledgling record label offshoot that the six-member rap-rock troupe signed to in 2005. They later parted company with MySpace Records, preferring to seek another label rather than censor their lyrics, and it's hard to argue with their logic. Presented here in all its unedited glory, there's nothing particularly shocking about any of the lyrics on Swan Song -- in fact, there's very little that's interesting at all. Part of the problem lies in the fact that the group doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. Much of the album is given over to ironic frat-boy party rap: marquee singles "Everywhere I Go" and "No. 5" play fast and loose with misogynist and homophobic slurs, but it's a cheap way to win a laugh, and the jokes become stale long before Hollywood Undead are finished with them. Insufferable though the lyrics are, there are some genuinely good ideas here. "Everywhere I Go" and "No Other Place," in particular, are as danceable as any single in recent memory, and the production value is strong throughout the album. However, their attempts to get serious are about as convincing as their pimp credentials (i.e. not very) and the more intensified the mood, the more interchangeable the rappers become (only Funny Man stands out for his booming baritone). Tracks like "Young" and "This Love, This Hate" represent a low point, as the emcees trade ever-more-exasperated Marshall Mathers impersonations to the backdrop of imposing Wall of Sound guitars and angsty chorus vocals. Clearly, they have talent, but a giant question remains as to whether Hollywood Undead have the self-confidence to drop the gimmicky exterior and deliver something a little more substantial than dated clich├ęs and mildly offensive lyrics.

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