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Billy Talent

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Album Review

Billy Talent takes its curious handle from a character name in the 1996 mock rockumentary Hard Core Logo, which traced the continuing adventures of an aging Vancouver punk band. The reference is probably more resonant in the Talent's home base of Toronto; everywhere else, it's a little awkward. Fortunately, the quartet's eponymous Atlantic release struggles mightily to make music matter more than moniker or stylized genre revivalism. Over a muscular, relentless, and viciously catchy 40 minutes, the band checks the wiry, melodic punk of the Buzzcocks while working Fugazi's dueling vocalist dynamic and searingly precise guitar breaks into its own three-minute anthems. The Buzzcocks' influence is immediate and easy; indeed, Billy Talent conveniently opened a clutch of dates on the reunited veterans' 2003 tour. Likewise, Talent benefits from production that tweaks its hooks for maximum sonic pugilism. But while Benjamin Kowalewicz's yowl and screech do bear some resemblance to countryman and somewhat melodramatic Our Lady Peace mouth Raine Maida, his sloganeering lyrics are laced with cynicism, and right-hand man guitarist Ian D'Sa favors tense, angular guitar tones over the enormous compression of the mall-punk boy bands that proliferated at the turn of the century. "Try Honesty" and "This Is How It Goes" certainly have the shout-along choruses. But the latter's "Hold my breath until my heart explodes" is darker than any of Good Charlotte's toothless challenges to authority. There are no nods to hip-hop or power balladry here; "Living in the Shadows" and "Line & Sinker" are roiling, throttling post-hardcore screeds field-stripped to basics, but rebuilt with melody. "The Ex" might be the most straightforward two-and-a-half minutes of punk revivalism on Billy Talent. But even here, the band tears at conventional spurned boyfriend lyrics with vindictive gang vocal interplay, and rushes headlong into the explosive chorus with a nervous energy that's hard to fake. Certainly, Atlantic would like to see Billy Talent hit a chord with the kids — the record's melodic accessibility bears that out — but the group wisely favors agitation and tension over cherry-picking from current musical fashion.

Customer Reviews

Fantastic album (on repeat)

Wow, I only became a fan of Billy Talent through the Red Flag song playing on the Burnout Soundtrack, but gosh these guys are amazing. I can just listen to this album over and over again, on my ipod, in the car, and on the pc. No songs really stand out cause they are all fantastic.

Billy Talented

Great album with catchy tunes that you'll find yourself shouting along to after 1 or 2 listens. I heard these guys at soundwave 09 and was very impressed, both this album and Billy Talent II are very impressive!

BILLY TALENT!!!!!!!!!!!

WOW these guys are great i found out about these guys through a friend and now i have more of there stuff than he does. This album is great and there second one is just as good if not better, love there stuff and they have a new album coming out in July 2009 wowowowowowow

Biography

Formed: 1999 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Punk revival quartet Billy Talent used to be known as Pezz back in their Streetsville, Ontario, high school days. But by 1999, the quartet — vocalist Ben Kowalewicz, guitarist Ian D'Sa, bassist Jon Gallant, and drummer Aaron Solowoniuk — had adopted a new moniker and were making their way in Toronto with the self-released Watoosh! LP under their belt. The Try Honesty EP followed in 2001; it led to strong local buzz, exposure supporting larger touring acts, and an eventual demo deal with...
Full Bio
Billy Talent, Billy Talent
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  • $8.99
  • Genres: Rock, Music, Hard Rock, Alternative, Punk
  • Released: 26 August 2003

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