Review: "Crooked Teeth" - Papa Roach

by Joe McIndoe,

Lead singer of Papa Roach, Jacoby Shaddix, described the latest album, Crooked Teeth, as having “sociopolitical elements to it”, without being overtly political.

In an interview with Rock 105.5, the front man said of the album "It’s a record of healing and frustration. I’m F**k mad and I’m angry, and I’m happy, it’s a savage album."

In that vein, the 10-track LP contains plenty of tunes about, going through hell, the desperate state of the world, and, heart-breaking tragedy.

The band’s ninth studio release is filled with consistently catchy Alternative/Nu metal driven tunes.
Help is quite simply anthemic. Seemingly, about a man trying to fight his personal demons, the song is a pure rock out joy with a very snappy hook. It’s an exuberant offering, making the most of a drum heavy sound and a fired up vocalist. It’s such an earworm that it could almost be made for pop radio.

American Dream also shoots for mass appeal as it attacks the USA’s favorite flawed mantra. Shaddix raps "it feels like American dreams caught on fire, tearing down the white picket fences. A soldier bleeds and a soldier dies have you ever thought that war was a sickness".

To Papa Roach’s credit, there rhymes are kept simple and get the message across throughout the record.

Much in the same way as offerings like Break the Fall (which sounds like a Monday Night Raw theme) and Help, there’s an air of Saturday night stadium rock.

Further, strengthening the significance of rap on Crooked Teeth is the guest inclusion of Machine Gun Kelly. The artist lends his voice to the most tragically grounded story on the disc, Sunrise Trailer Park.

The quartet have put together a slick, fun rock ride, which doesn’t feel all that far away from the mainstream. There is clear melodic vocals, plenty of pump up tunes, a universal message, and a pinch of personal passion too.

Discussing the album’s themes, Shaddix indicated that the LPs lyrics were for war veterans, and the struggles they return to. Nowhere is this more prevalent than on the title track.

With allusions to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder the lyrics reveal that:

Terrified, paralyzed Something's got a hold on me
Let me go, I can't speak
I'm choking on my crooked teeth
Wake me up if I sleep
Cause I'm haunted by my dreams
Crying out, but I can't speak
Cause I'm choking on my, choking on my Crooked teeth….

With a bit of context beforehand, it begins to reveal the dark horrors of PTSD. Traumatic also appears to follow in a similar vein, as its protagonist struggles to not only come to terms with his painful experience, but also intruding, if well-meaning loved ones.

The subject matter is intense, but not easily signposted, without some pre-listening research. Both songs’ hard in your face approach makes it easy to head bang, but not quite so straightforward to find the meaning within the piece.

Nevertheless, the return to the studio has wrought an anthemic, engaged and well-rounded record, that is well worth a listen.

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