Alec Reviews Music: Hollywood Undead is inconsistent with ‘Five’

Alec Erickson

Five is a big number for Hollywood Undead.

Album cover for Hollywood Undead's Five
Photo Courtesy: iTunes

Five is the number of members still in the group, five is the number of studio records they have recorded and five is exactly what they decided to call their latest release. When it comes to lineup changes, the band has always managed to adapt to the challenges that they bring. Making changes is the name of the game when it comes to the group making records and when you skirt around genres like rap, rock and hardcore this gives you a lot of room to work with. Hollywood Undead is still making some changes with their fifth-studio album “Five” and it mostly works.

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The Los Angeles, California, masked-rap group, Hollywood Undead, formed back in 2005. Each member, known mostly by their masked persona, all had a very large part in almost every single track the group recorded. Every member plays a role in the vocals and most members play one instrument or more, it was no wonder why the group could stand out in 2008 with their debut “Swan Songs.” Blending elements of rock and rap with a hint of hardcore elements has always been Hollywood Undead’s style and they were always able to make their following releases sound fresh and just a bit different. Records like “American Tragedy” embraced more rock tracks, while records like “Day of The Dead” went back to rap. Now the group’s latest release sits somewhere in between the two genres, again with some new smaller influences of R&B and other genres to try and give it a more unique edge.

“Five” is 14-track record that clocks in at 53 minutes in length. The pacing on this record is a not the group’s strongest when it comes down to it. There will be moments when verses are flowing and things are a bit heavier and almost every time the chorus kicks in, things will shift suddenly for a softer and shallow tone. When tracks do not shift things on you halfway through, they are great. This is one record that has a lot of padding in the front and a few tracks in is when it finally becomes clear what the group is going for.

Musically, we hear how much more important synths and keyboards have become in the mixing process. Percussion elements begin to take a backseat, when in the past that is what the group really relied on. Tracks like “Nobody’s Watching” are built off the progression of elements always being added, starting from keys and working its way to this church choir verse closing on track that makes it one of the standouts. Then you have tracks like “Whatever It Takes” and “Renegade,” which are more of true Hollywood Undead fashion when guitar riffs and distortion drive the track and other elements are less of a driving force. Other tracks like “Ghost Beach” and “Broken Record” take more from R&B and alternative when it comes to how they were produced. The one thing that really stands out about “Five” is how much the group played with style on this record, on one hand it makes it fresh but on the other it makes the record seemed confused as to what it wants to be.

Lyrically, this is the one area Hollywood Undead has not changed at all. There are still songs about partying, women and drugs. The one thing about Hollywood Undead is when they tackle a more serious topic it works better in their favor like with “Nobody’s Watching.” Then you get songs like “California Dreaming” and “Black Cadillac,” which are shallow, with confused verses from the group and shaky choruses. Overall, “Five” does have some of the groups better efforts at song writing like with tracks “Cashed Out” and “Your Life.” Hollywood Undead vocals are dependent on the music styling of this record, so when things are in that rock and rap fashion that is where the group operates the most efficiently but when things are say more in a R&B style, it will work for them but maybe not as well as they thought it would.

Should you listen to it? Maybe

Hollywood Undead is always an interesting group in the sense that they are almost never satisfied with how they sound. The group keeps working to make things sound new and “Five” is no exception. What makes this record not the greatest is that the group experimented with a lot more than just a couple new ideas. “Five” works as a collective of tracks instead of a coherent record and fans will most likely be picking and choosing tracks to listen to.

Band info:

  • It took the band one year to record “Swan Songs” and two more years to find a company that would not censor it.
  • Shady Jeff left the group citing conflicts with Deuce. Deuce would later leave the band because of creative differences starting his solo career.
  • The remaining members of the band are: J-Dog, Funny Man, Johnny 3 Tears, Charlie Scene and Danny

Collegian Reporter Alec Erickson can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on twitter @CTV_Ace.