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Sick Puppies - Tri-Polar (Album Review)

Thursday, 31 March 2011 Written by Jonny Rimmer
Sick Puppies - Tri-Polar (Album Review)

“Sick Puppies? Where have I heard that name before?” It is okay if this is your current train of thought, and no, the answer isn’t the latest RSPCA advert. This post-grunge trio have helped notch up an impressive 67 million views on Youtube with their song 'All the Same' being the soundtrack to ‘Free Hugs Campaign’, one of the most heart-warming videos on the entire internet.

Their latest record, 'Tri-Polar', was actually released in their native Australia two whole years ago, and despite actually being their third studio LP, this is the first time that the Pups (yes, I’m still not entirely smitten by their name) will have a release in the United Kingdom.

ImageThe sound of Sick Puppies isn’t quite as cosy as you might expect. There are riffs here, although perhaps not enough for them to warrant the tag of ‘hard rock’, whatever that is supposed to mean these days. Considering the emphasis that this style of music has on pop hooks, the choruses are noticeably weak on 'Tri-Polar', even lazy. The key single from the album, 'Maybe', is the most surprising in that it’s one of the most forgettable tracks on the whole album.

When Sick Puppies do push the boat out, the fruits can be more tolerable. Emma Anzai’s bass work is particularly sterling given the predominantly triplet-based guitar lines she follows, 'Odd One' being a good example. Unfortunately, these high points are pick and mix, and a proportion of the record comes across as palpably formulaic. For example, 'You’re Going Down' sounds like a Papa Roach b-side that could have been written as a wrestling theme song. About a minute of research shows that it was indeed used by the WWE for one of their pay-per-views. Even the more tender sentiments of opener 'All the Same' come across as more cheesy and over-the-top than they did when accompanied by the aforementioned cuddly video.

'Tri-Polar' also lacks the subtlety that their previous releases did, with the lyrics to 'Should’ve Have Known Better' being particularly juvenile: “It’s over/I wish I’d never met you...Get Into a Fight Just to make the sex better/I should have known better.” Those pesky puppies, eh?

Cunning wordplay notwithstanding, Sick Puppies have made some strides forward in musical terms. Let’s make no bones about it, this is radio-tailored rock for fans of Goo Goo Dolls and Breaking Benjamin and if you are fan of those bands, then the chances are that Sick Puppies will be right up your alley. Some might say that the trio have got to exactly where they want to get to, and their relentless touring of the States means that they can definitely expect some commercial success. By brushing up on their song-writing however, they may also make the mature pop record that they have the potential to make.

Album Rating: 5/10

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