200 Bullets - The Red Album
Record Label: NextPunk Records
Release Date: Summer 2006
Well, at least it’s not Europop.
Hailing from Milan, 200 Bullets is Italy’s attempt to escape from the confines of the usual garbage that the continent puts out. Whilst this is a noble aim, it will take some work before the band is likely to see any real success outside of their country.
At first, I was optimistic; the beginning of the opening track, entitled “Fuck You” (the phrase that every European knows and is only too eager to use at any opportunity, relevant or not), sounded promisingly in sound (if not in lyrical wit) like something from a Turbonegro record. However, this optimism was short-lived as the vocals are left on their own, exposing their weakness for the first time. I can assure you that it will not be the last and that the singer will need to concentrate more on his vocal work.
As you might expect from a band whose first language is not the one they’re singing in, the lyrics lack imagination and, at time, coherence. Take, for example, the heavily accented “Music in my veins, imagination rule again / It’s only rock & roll to me,” along with the clearly imaginative lyrics in “Fuck You”.
Anyway, “In the World”, is actually a pretty solid punk track – even the vocals get a minor boost from the increased musical quality. The production on this song also isn’t bad, something pleasing on a record with production that occasionally sounds as if it were recorded at home. There’s even one of those mid-song “phone call” type deals, something that, whilst not really being essential, is a good bit of fun.
The chorus of “My Therapy” contains not only the irony of the lyrics “this is my melody,” but also the cliché of mentioning “revolution” in a punk song. The production also finds itself lacking here, with the cymbals being a) hard to make out and b) poorly recorded. Sure, such an EP (I don’t exactly know why it calls itself an album, being six tracks long and all), wouldn’t want too much production in order to leave a somewhat ‘raw’ sound, but this is just sloppy and leaves the music feeling hollow.
“Anthem of a Generation,” the next track, also manages to reference revolution on multiple occasions. The drums are back here but the recording of the guitars suffers some here, though I wouldn’t say that it affects the sound enough to complain.
The beginning of the penultimate song, “Music,” reminded me significantly of Pete Wentz’s “screaming” on Fall Out Boy’s “Carpal Tunnel of Love” – a comparison sure to bring laughter to the hearts of anyone who knows what I’m talking about. The rest of the song lacks anything new, interesting or engaging, with the drums sounding as if they’re merely being beaten to death for most of the song. Even the guitar lines, which haven’t been bad for the rest of the CD, are unbearably dull, stale & repetitive.
At last, the final song, “Stay Away,” which, surprisingly, is actually pretty good and wouldn’t be out of place on a small-town pop-punk band’s EP and is actually rather engaging. Hell, even the vocals are noticeably better.
If only The Red Album had been more similar to “In the World” and “Stay Away,” I may have looked more favorably upon it. What is most noticeable about these two songs is that, whilst the music is of a higher standard, the vocals are brought up to scratch by this as well. After all, the singer isn’t that bad – I can’t deny that he hits all of the notes just fine, not that the vocal melodies are particularly challenging. But the way in which the vocals are delivered, for one reason or another, just isn’t as easy on the ears as it should be.
Should they be able to manage to replicate the style and quality of the two aforementioned songs on their next record then, who knows? I might even grow to like them.