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The Quilt

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Album Review

The Quilt is as good a name as any for Gym Class Heroes' post-hip-hop pop collage, as they weave together discarded strands of junk culture into something new yet naggingly familiar. More than most of their peers, they embody all the glorious and maddening contradictions of their generation. Raised in the heyday of hip-hop while steeped in the irony of '90s alt-rock, persistent nostalgia for '70s kitsch, and '80s new wave, Gym Class Heroes see no borders between any era or style, mixing and matching the parts to create funky Frankensteins that feel as pop as they do rap. On The Quilt, Travis McCoy and crew attempt to amp up the urban and hip-hop just a bit, working with Cool & Dre — producers with the Game and Lil Wayne to their credit — and having Rihanna associate the Dream in for the single "Cookie Jar," but they do all this without abandoning longtime running-partner Fall Out Boy Patrick Stump, or their love of syrupy soft rock hooks, a love that manifests in a duet with Daryl Hall, and choruses that feel borrowed from Ben Folds, or maybe Jack's Mannequin. All this stylistic hopscotch winds up unwittingly emphasizing just how much Gym Class Heroes are indebted to OutKast's — or perhaps more specifically André 3000 — genre-bending, as the best moments here float on the same kind of giddy, infectious choruses that fueled "Roses." That Gym Class Heroes get a little lax on their verses points out that they're better in broad strokes than details, just like how they deliver clever concepts that call out for a bit more wit than McCoy manages to muster. And that's also how Gym Class Heroes' Quilt is very, very much of its time: it skates by on the surface, which is appealing for a while, but in large doses it can seem like too much empty style.

Biography

Formed: 1997 in Geneva, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Melding elements of rap, rock, R&B, and funk into one cohesive and melodic sound, upstate New York's Gym Class Heroes have diverse appeal based on their impressive musical dexterity. Often touring with indie rock and pop-punk bands, they don't fit comfortably into one specific genre; the quartet's music is rooted in traditional hip-hop, but features live instruments instead of looped samples or beats. Lyrics are often socially conscious, but also incorporate humor and wry perceptiveness. The...
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The Quilt, Gym Class Heroes
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