If you’re a young person living in Canada, it’s a virtual certainty that one of the bands that have been continuously thrown in your face over the past year and a half is Billy Talent. Billy Talent is a fast-paced punk rock band out of Toronto, formed by four friends, one of which is former 102.1 The Edge radio disc jockey Ben Kowalewicz. The band released their self-titled debut album in late 2003 and ever since it came out, people have been hyping Billy Talent as the next big Canadian ‘it’ band. All the publicity, hype and overexposure has turned me off from giving them a chance for a long time, but I finally succumbed and I must say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Billy Talent has produced a very decent debut album with more than a few good songs.

The album begins with the track “This Is How It Goes” and about twenty seconds into the song, it becomes evident what kind of sound they are going for. The band’s punk rock sound is nothing original or flashy, but it is effective. “This Is How It Goes” is one of the better songs off the album and it really sets the tone well for the next eleven tracks. Track two, “Living in the Shadows” is another solid song, but it sounds like the band must have written the first two tracks for the album at the same time because they are both very similar sounding. The song “Try Honesty” comes next, which also happens to be the record’s first single and only song over four minutes in length. I was never a fan of this song and it had a lot to do with initially turning me off of the band. The guitars are kind of cool, but Kowalewicz’s vocals and the backup singing on the chorus is just plain annoying.

After getting “Try Honesty” out of the way, the best of the album comes between track four and eight. “Line & Sinker” is a fast paced scream-a-thon led by Kowalewicz and it is damn catchy. “Lies” and the album’s second single “The Ex” are both decent songs that keep the album’s consistency, but neither is as good as some of the other standout tracks on the disc. Next comes perhaps the two best songs off the record, the third single “River Below” and “Standing in the Rain.” Both songs have awesome hooks and rock out rather well. Like most albums, the last few songs are nothing special, except for perhaps track eleven “Nothing To Lose.” The song features more of Kowalewicz’s whiny screaming and it is perhaps the only song off the album that carries with it a serious message. The song’s lyrics are sung from the standpoint of a young person confronting the problems and troubles of being an adolescent. The other three songs at the end of the record “Cut the Curtains,” “Prisoners of Today” and “Voices of Violence” aren’t necessarily horrible, but none of them are particularly catchy and are just a bit too redundant.

All in all, Billy Talent have produced a solid debut album worthy of recognition. Even though the songs are quite formulaic and are not much of a progression from what The Ramones were doing in the late 1970s, the band has proven that it is capable of writing some very catchy punk rock songs which is by no means an easy task to accomplish. Some of the songs do sound quite alike which shows the lack of originality of the band; unfortunately punk rock these days is not about huge innovation. If you’re a fan of fast-paced, angry punk rock music and you’re not expecting too much, then Billy Talent is an album definitely worth checking out. And while it’s not exactly worthy of all the hype that has surrounded it for the past year and a half, it is still a solid record and a relatively fun listen.  [ END ]

Track Listing:

01. This Is How It Goes
02. Living In The Shadows
03. Try Honesty
04. Line & Sinker
05. Lies
06. The Ex
07. River Below
08. Standing In The Rain
09. Cut The Curtains
10. Prisoners Of Today
11. Nothing To Lose
12. Voices Of Violence

Run Time: 41:01