After four years of living in Los Angeles, it's no surprise that Sick Puppies sound more American than ever on Tri-Polar. The Australian band always drew on U.S. angst rock for its influences, though, and that's even more obvious here than before, with plenty of Alice in Chains, Stabbing Westward, and their ilk apparent on the bandmembers' sleeves. "So What I Lied" has a guitar riff in the midsection typical of Tool, and in "White Balloons" singer Shimon Moore briefly adopts the stop-start cadence of Maynard Keenan. "Don't Walk Away" is a very typical example of the "I know I was wrong" genre that even includes a heartfelt moan of..."I know I was wrong." Another touchstone band whose influence was felt on their previous album, Dressed Up as Life, is My Chemical Romance, and although Tri-Polar's production has their polished sheen, Sick Puppies lack the theatrical edge of My Chemical Romance that makes the sound work. Moore's agonized and echoing screams and shouts would be better served by a production style that wasn't so relentless about smoothing out all of the rough edges, letting them be as ragged as it sounds like the band wants them to be. The downtrodden revenge fantasy "Master of the Universe" has a quirky slap bass intro and a sitar layered into the guitar solo; it's the album's highlight. Unfortunately for Sick Puppies, though, there's nothing with the breakthrough potential of "All the Same" here.
AllMusic Review by Jody Macgregor