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Album Review
Gym Class Heroes - As Cruel As School Children Album Cover

Gym Class Heroes - As Cruel As School Children

Reviewed by
7.5
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
GYM CLASS HEROES - As Cruel As School Children

“Too rock for hip-hop, too hip-hop for rock,” has been the tagline for the upstate New York quartet, Gym Class Heroes. After name-dropping a who’s who of important scene bands in the catchy “Taxi Driver,” GCH developed a nice following, and after signing to Pete Wentz’s label, Decaydance, and releasing their heart-on-sleeve debut The Papercut Chronicles, people started paying attention, expectations began to build, and the Heroes began to worry: can we top Papercut? Fortunately, it is safe to say that their second album, As Cruel As School Children, not only surpasses their previous effort, but it is also going to serve as their launching pad into the big time. Produced by Sam Hollander and Patrick Stump, School Children’s fourteen track offering is heavy on the hip hop side this time around, yet still possesses that full band sound. Influenced more by frontman Travis McCoy’s obsession with 80’s R&B, GCH have added more depth to their lyrics and music on album two.

“1st Period: The Queen And I” begins the album with a salsa-like guitar strum from Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo backed by the jittery bass of Eric Roberts. McCoy’s lyrics flow nicely and possess your ear immediately. “2nd Period: Shoot Down The Stars” features the thumping from drummer Matt McGinley and the up-down contrast between Disashi and Roberts. The chorus is what stands out here; McCoy carries the melody very well, singing about following your dreams and not let people shit on you and what you want to achieve. The following song is the obnoxiously catchy “New Friend Request.” While it’s almost impossible to not enjoy this song, lyrically I think it’s lame, but Travis’ delivery saves it. “Clothes Off!” is going to be the song that breaks this band through. Featuring Stump shrieking, “We have to take our clothes off/to have a good time,” Travis’ flow resembles Will Smith, but the musicianship on this song is stellar, as it has a club vibe to it. Following this is the first of three “Sloppy Love Jingles,” which is basically skits of Travis rhyming over his battles with love and trying to hook up with a girl at the bar. Personally, I don’t like any of these and they just kill the overall mood to the album. “Viva La White Girl” is a slow jam, showing that the band is very capable of slowing things down. “7 Weeks” features The Academy Is… Will Beckett on chorus, and this is one of the stronger tracks on the album. Roberts’ bass is chunky, Disashi’s guitar sets a chilled vibe, and Beckett sound pretty good on the chorus, executing a nice falsetto. “It’s OK, But Just This Once!” is good musically, but this song really doesn’t stand out. “Biters Block” has a menacing tone to it, as the bass creeps along with McGinley’s tight drumming. The chorus features children singing followed by Speech (of Arrested Development fame) laying down the lyrics. “Scandalous Scholastics” is my least favorite track, as the opening verse reminds me of a boy band harmony. This track is full of cheese, as it is about Travis bumping uglies with his teacher. “On My Own Time (Write On!)” makes up for that misstep, though. The track grooves throughout and this track is Travis’ vindication, showing that he can overcome the pressures and write a good album.

The album displays the theme of a school day, even with all the tracks divided up into a school schedule. The cover displays the school outcast, the underdog, which is exactly the niche of GCH. They are going to surprise many and take the charts by storm with this release. While there are some shortcomings lyrically, the musicianship from Disashi, McGinley, and Roberts is much better than what they showcased on Papercut. Also, Travis’ delivery is still very good, and I’m glad he branched out his lyrics to other topics than the usual “emo” staples we hear in many albums today. As Cruel As School Children is perfect for those who don’t listen to hip-hop at all and may be that gateway to the genre for them. Experienced hip-hop fans will probably scoff at this and not even give it the time of day, but I ask that you give it a shot, as you may find 3-4 tracks you really dig. Gym Class Heroes have released an album that will make them the third band from the Decaydance roster to make it huge. If they release the right singles and market it the right way, it is very possible that you’ll see this band climbing the charts on TRL. While the staying power of this album will come in question, the replayability and enjoyment is rather high. Add As Cruel As School Children to your summer playlist and get ready to watch these guys become Heroes of more than just the gymnasium.
Additional InformationTracklisting:
1. 1st Period: The Queen And I
2. 2nd Period: Shoot Down The Stars
3. 3rd Period: New Friend Request
4. 4th Period: Clothes Off!
5. Lunch: Sloppy Love Jingle Pt. 1
6. 6th Period: Viva La White Girl
7. 7th Period: 7 Weeks
8. 8th Period: It’s OK, But Just This Once!
9. Study Hall: Sloppy Love Jingle Pt. 2
10. 10th Period: Biters Block
11. Yearbook Club: Boys In Bands Interlude
12. 12th Period: Scandalous Scholastics
13. 13th Period: On My Own (Write On!)
14. Detention: Sloppy Love Jingle Pt. 3
Produced by: Sam Hollander and Patrick Stump

Gym Class Heroes are:
Travis McCoy - vocals
Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo - guitar
Eric Roberts - bass
Matt McGinley - drums

Release Date: July 25, 2006
Record Label: Decaydance/Fueled By Ramen
Official Website;Official Myspace
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 70
10:20 PM on 07/31/06
#2
thisisadisaster
RICK FROM ALABAMA
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good review. great cd.
10:24 PM on 07/31/06
#3
CROMagnon
Joe Cool
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the best line on that cd comes from your least favorite song
10:29 PM on 07/31/06
#4
Drew Beringer
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Originally Posted by CROMagnon
the best line on that cd comes from your least favorite song
Is it the sacreligious line? lol
10:29 PM on 07/31/06
#5
CROMagnon
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Originally Posted by Drew Beringer
Is it the sacreligious line? lol
yes it is
10:37 PM on 07/31/06
#6
Drew Beringer
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Originally Posted by CROMagnon
yes it is
hahahaha I do get a chuckle out of that.
10:41 PM on 07/31/06
#7
Fat Kid Running
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Good review, but id give it a little higher rating. i love the sloppy love series.. even though after you hear it after a few times your already sick of it.
10:58 PM on 07/31/06
#8
Scott Weber
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Meh. There's so much rap I'd rather listen to than this. It's not...bad, it's just not that good IMO. Whatevs, it's just an opinion. Whatever makes ya happy.
11:07 PM on 07/31/06
#9
Drew Beringer
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Originally Posted by Scott Weber
Meh. There's so much rap I'd rather listen to than this. It's not...bad, it's just not that good IMO. Whatevs, it's just an opinion. Whatever makes ya happy.
You make me happy. /gaymoment
11:20 PM on 07/31/06
GoWaitInTheCar
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I'm not sure what I think of this cd yet.

It's to much a mainstream style hip hop record to consider it indie.
It's to much of an indie hip hop record to consider it mainstream style.

I think it falls between the cracks of both of the genres and won't be accepted in either community.

The only place that will accept this is society and local radio stations $$$$
11:22 PM on 07/31/06
GoWaitInTheCar
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Originally Posted by Scott Weber
Meh. There's so much rap I'd rather listen to than this. It's not...bad, it's just not that good IMO. Whatevs, it's just an opinion. Whatever makes ya happy.

That's what I'm trying to say. If I wanted to listen to rap, I wouldn't listen to this. If I wanted to listen to indie rap, I wouldn't listen to this.

It's not that it's a bad record, infact, I think it's good.. it's just not what I wanted from this band.
11:37 PM on 07/31/06
alreadyheardit
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this kinda follows the trend of some reviews here where the text body of the review is more flattering than the numerical breakdown.
i love this record.
05:24 AM on 08/01/06
xllirikx
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nice review, but I really think its better than that.
09:37 AM on 08/01/06
Steve Henderson
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I will have to greatly disagree with you when you say this surpasses Papercut Chronicles...this is way more disposable to me.

To each his own, though.
10:18 AM on 08/01/06
|ant|
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Originally Posted by Drew Beringer
Fortunately, it is safe to say that their second album, As Cruel As School Children, not only surpasses their previous effort, but it is also going to serve as their launching pad into the big time.

I disagree, in the sense that this is better than their previous LP. There is no way you can say that. Their previous cdjust had so much heart and such a raw aspect to the music. They pretty much lost their band feel, which I no doubt miss. Although, I do agree that they will be huge very soon.

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