Billy Talent - Billy Talent (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Billy Talent

Billy Talent (2003)


I haven't slept in roughly 32 hours, due to massive amounts of work due for my senior research paper due in a few weeks. If I do poorly on this project, I more or less won't graduate, so it's of utmost importance that I work my ass off with what little time I have left to make it the best I possibly can.

Oh yeah, my topic is "The Ethnography of Punk Rock."

Anyway, since I moved back in after New Years, I've been staying up later and later trying to get more and more done. This wouldn't be a problem if I also didn't have to get up relatively early in the morning, as well.

Luckily for me, Billy Talent's eponymous debut is a soundtrack to insomnia.

No, that's not an insult. Allow me to explain.

Billy Talent is a punchy, aggressive alternarock band with plenty of punk influence in their sound. The guitars are buzzsaw in nature, and singer Benjamin Kowalewicz's vocals are as fiercely spat out as Jello Biafra in his prime. You can hear the fire in his vocal chords as he belts out falsetto yell after falsetto yell. On the first listen, it almost comes off as comedic, but then once you pay attention to Kowalewicz's verbal lashings like "I'm insane, it's your fault... cry!" and "What you see is what you get! / Look at me and don't forget!," you realize the seriousness of emotion behind his booming countertenor.

The music for most of these songs just has a generally moody, morose, angry vibe to it. Album closer "Voices Of Violence" is three minutes of balls out punk rock, and breakout single "Try Honesty" is so goddamn catchy you'll be singing it in your sleep...

...if this album allowed you to sleep. Honestly, every time I get tired, I throw this CD on and my ears perk up at the sound of these four Canadians cutting their teeth on some of the most straightforward, no bullshit rock music I've heard in a long time. You can't not focus on the powerful vocals, the surprisingly hooky songwriting, and the so snotty-it's-endearing lyricism of Billy Talent. This CD could drive me insane if I don't stop playing it; I need to sleep sometime, don't I?

In short, this is the perfect "My great aunt Patty gave me a 10 dollar Best Buy gift card for Christmas - I can't buy anything for 10 bucks there!" CD. It's a shame that Billy Talent's being lumped in with the "emerging artists" on the 10 dollar or less rack, as this album is worth full price and then some. Surprisingly solid, enjoyable, and highly recommended.