Even though the nu-metal days are long over, the genre’s top acts aren’t done by any means. Papa Roach were some of nu-metals most beloved acts, and they’ve carried themselves through the years by finding ways to keep evolving their sound, experimenting with elements of rock, electronic, and more over nine records. Papa Roach begin exploring elements of pop music in their tenth record Who Do You Trust?, and while the band does showcase their ability to adapt to changing times and that they have honed their songwriting, this record isn’t a perfect experiment.
Experimenting with pop music can be a dangerous thing for a rock band. They risk alienating a dedicated fanbase, particularly those who will turn to the “sellout” label as a justification. Papa Roach don’t quite find the right balance off the bat, but things improve as the record continues. One fault of the pop experimentation is that it seems that the entire record was mixed to accentuate the pop elements, which really hurts some of the heavier tracks: the big intro and drama of opening track ‘The Ending‘ is hurt by the poor mix and weak vocals, while even the more aggressive ‘Renegade Music‘ ends up coming off as a miss. Things improve a lot towards the middle of the record, where Papa Roach dish out some fantastic pop rock anthems. ‘Come Around‘ is the perfect balance the band tries to achieve the entire record, with warm, reverberating, and bright verses that lead into an anthemic chorus complete with the best lyrics on the record. ‘Feel Like Home‘ is similarly enjoyable, though with weaker lyrics.
Who Do You Trust? is a mixed bag. Some tracks really embrace the poppy elements well, while others feel like they take those sounds overboard. Papa Roach seem to constantly be emulating twenty one pilots, especially in ‘Not The Only One‘ and ‘Elevate,’ the latter of which is pretty much twenty one pilots’ ‘Levitate‘ with an original chorus. Things come together a lot better at the end of the record, though it’s not perfect. ‘Problems‘ is a great pop song, but does feel like it delves a bit too close to the “sellout” sort of sound. It’s not all done badly, however: the band surprises with a heavy punk track ‘I Suffer Well‘ that is reminiscent of their older sound in all the right ways, while tracks like ‘Top Of The World‘ bring big energy to the album. Even closing track ‘Better Than Life' takes the album out on a punchy note.
Papa Roach’s pop experimentation in Who Do You Trust? is hit or miss: some tracks excel and show that the band has learned to embrace new elements of music in their sound, while others show that perhaps they went a bit too far. This record isn’t a perfect experiment, but it’s a strong call out from a band who deserves more recognition than their legacy offers. It’s a mixed bag, but one worth sorting through to find the real gems.
Favorite Tracks: Come Around, Feel Like Home
Least Favorite Tracks: Maniac, Elevate, Renegade Music
Rating: 71 / 100
Stream or buy Who Do You Trust? on Apple Music, and follow our 2019 Playlist on Spotify: