Sick Puppies – Tri-Polar (Deluxe Version)
Record Label: RMR / Virgin
Release Date: July 14 2009
I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that there are genres and bands I’m not too familiar with. Hard rock and alternative metal are definitely a couple of those genres, but over the last five months, I’ve gotten a bit more acquainted with them, thanks to a friend of mine who’s really into that kind of music. He’s gotten me into bands like RED, Three Days Grace, Thousand Foot Krutch, and finally, he sent me a couple of records in the mail that he should I would enjoy, one of which being Australian trio Sick Puppies latest effort Tri-Polar. To make things better, he sent me the deluxe copy, which is what I’ll be reviewing today. I always love writing reviews like these, because this is a band that I knew almost next to nothing about before listening to this, and doing some research. I had heard a couple songs, but didn’t really get curious enough to check out a record for myself, so it’s always fun to dive into a record that you’re not too familiar with, just because you never know what you’ll find. It’s even better when you find something wonderful, which is exactly what I found with Tri-Polar, and the bonus disc, which included “unplugged” versions of songs from the record, some b-sides, and a bonus track. Needless to say, there’s a lot to take from this record. Sick Puppies aren’t your average hard rock band, either; they include a few different things in their sound, kind of like fellow hard rock band Thousand Foot Krutch. That band is known for including hip-hop/rap to their sound, which makes for a very interesting listen, but Sick Puppies include punk and pop-punk into their sound to make their sound a little less aggressive, and just a little bit more appealing to others as well as standing out among their peers.
The records starts with “War,” and immediately, the record starts with a bang, as vocalist Shimon Moore shouts, “Let’s do this!” A really aggressive guitar riff kicks in as Moore sings more, and his vocals are rather distorted. The attitude of this song definitely describes the title; it’s aggressive, loud, and fast. This song starts off the album nicely, but doesn’t represent the entire record, either. It’s just a straightforward hard rock song, and nothing more. Moore’s voice is really interesting, and he’s genuinely a good singer, but this song doesn’t do his voice justice. Second track “I Hate You” is another aggressive track, but this one is lyrically bitter, as the title suggests. It doesn’t do much for me, and it could be the really hateful lyrics (pun intended), but the song itself doesn’t do anything really interesting, either. Most of the truly memorable moments seem to come later, like on third track, “Rip Tide.” This is a song that’s really interesting, because it starts off with a really cool guitar and bass riff, accompanied by Moore’s voice. The chorus is really cool in this song, and the lyrics are a bit more optimistic here. Bassist Emma Anzai even has her moments throughout this track, and one thing that this band is known for is her bass playing. She’s a wonderful bass player, and there are even some bass solos on this record. I digress, though.
One thing I have noticed throughout listening to this record is that the songs tend to have two different moods; the songs are either really aggressive and bitter, or they’re light-hearted and softer. Songs like “War,” “I Hate You,” and “You’re Going Down” are rather heavy, and they just don’t really do much for me. It’s the softer songs on the record that really show off Moore’s voice, because on the heavier songs, he just shouts and screams. He’s a wonderful singer, so I like to hear this actual voice. There are a few more soft songs throughout the record, but the next one doesn’t appear until fifth track “Odd One.” This song is right in the middle, honestly; it’s heavy, but it’s still catchy, and optimistic all at once. This is a song I definitely enjoy, even if it appears a third into the record. The highlights of this record are most certainly the softer songs. The heavier ones are entertaining, but they’re quite straightforward, aside from a few interesting moments here and there. “So What I Lied” has a really awesome guitar/bass solo in the bridge, and it sounds really awesome, honestly. A one-two punch occurs a bit later, though, in the form of “Should’ve Known Better,” and “Maybe.” The former is an alternative rocker that’s not so heavy, but just catchy and infectious. The latter is an acoustic track, and it’s another one of the most memorable tracks on the record, if not my favorite.
The last fourth of the record doesn’t offer too much in terms of anything like “Maybe” or “Should’ve Known Better,” but it’s still enjoyable. Those songs show off the best of Sick Puppies, and when both “sounds” of them work, the heavy and the soft. Next track “Don’t Walk Away” is another good pop-rock track, but by this point, the record seems rather derivative. It’s enjoyable, and their sound is rather unique, but thirteen songs clocking in at around 46 minutes seems a bit much after awhile, especially when the record goes between “heavy” and “soft” songs. While the rest of the songs don’t do much for me, closing track, “White Balloons” is another enjoyable track. I always look at the opening tracks and closing tracks, because one is easily just as important as the other. While the opening track, “War,” really started off the record on a very angry and aggressive note, “White Balloons” is rather the opposite, and it ends the record nicely. It even features some vocals from bassist Emma Anzai, and her and Moore have a little duet throughout the song, for the most part, too. It’s a great closing track, and it’s a nice contrast from the beginning of the record.
I did get the deluxe copy, and there is a bonus disc that came with the record, which includes seven “unplugged” versions of songs from the record, three b-sides, and a single bonus track. The unplugged versions are wonderful tracks, because they’re all “softer” versions than their counterparts, and a couple of the songs are already rather soft, like “Maybe,” so they strip it down even further to create something magical. The b-sides and bonus track are also really interesting, too; they don’t really deviate too differently from the record itself, and they would’ve fit nicely on the record, but the fact they put them on the bonus disc is nice, too. Although, I will admit bonus track “Monsters” is awesome. It’s got a very ominous and haunting sound to it, which accurately describes the title, and the lyrics itself. If they included this on the record, I definitely wouldn’t have minded. But either way, the bonus disc of the record may have a majority of “unplugged” versions, the bonus tracks and b-sides it has are still enjoyable. The record itself is also quite enjoyable, and it’s a very entertaining listen from start to finish.