Sick Puppies - Dressed Up As Life
Release Date: April 3, 2007
Record Label: Virgin Records
Virgin Records seemed like a label that was doing quality work as of late. Collaborations with K-Os, Over It, The Starting Line, Fountains of Wayne, and We Are Scientists are all solid indicators of a label trying to issue some credible music. However, with the unlikely, yet astronomical successes of bands like The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and 30 Seconds To Mars, it has become quite clear to the suits exactly what sells. And from this ultra-brilliant realization comes the bland kind of crap in which the Sick Puppies deal and peddle to the masses.
Since I am not from Australia, I do not know what that country's musical landscape is like. Whatever state it might be in, it has fostered a level of success for the Puppies to prompt Virgin to release their album, Dressed Up As Life, over here in the states. I would like to think, then, that down under, they have never heard of Hinder, Chevelle, Finger Eleven, and the myriad of other bands that are churning out this plain-vanilla type of radio-made pop-rock. Because if they had, they would hopefully realize there is absolutely nothing new about Sick Puppies, and less than an ounce of appeal in their conformity - little to elevate them to a position of acceptability. Nevertheless, their record has dropped on the unsuspecting (and ideally apathetic) masses in the States, and yes, it is as bad as you would imagine.
Sonically, the band has the type of sound that is just about eight years too late to have any tangible impact of any sort. Frontman Shimon Moore turns up the angst meter past 7, trying to sound oh-so-tough, dropping juvenile turns of phrase and needless profanity (Parental Advisory stickers are so hardcore) on top of overproduced instrumental backdrops. There is plenty of lamenting how awful life is (the aptly named "Pitiful") and how terrible parents can be (subtly dubbed "Asshole Father"...classy, eh?) You know the woe-is-me drill by now. Musically, Moore and his band borrow plenty of dumbed-down Nickelback guitar crunch and sadly enough, swipes its better riffage from Halifax ("Deliverence") and Trapt ("Issues"). Were this not enough, tracks like the single "All The Same" would sit right at home on a mixtape with Hinder's "Lips of an Angel" while others could be Staind, Puddle of Mudd, or Exies b-sides. Not exactly the highest of accolades but it could well find its audience.
In the end, there is very little to applaud about Sick Puppies. The band is about as fake and contrived as musical acts get - it is never a good sign when you nod to "additional writers" on your liner note credits. And from there, to go on and credit Rage Against The Machine and Green Day as your influences? That takes equal parts balls and insanity. So really, if not for authenticity, at least the band could offer up an engaging sound. Instead, we get second-rate, overwrought vocals, repetitive riffs, middle school lyrics, and some of the most extraneous production this side of a Breaking Benjamin record. Someone can tell Virgin Records that America is manufacturing one-dimensional, warmed-over bands in droves; we don't need to start importing them from Australia.