Zebrahead - Broadcast to the World (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Broadcast to the World (2006)

Icon / Sony

Writing this review made me feel like I've been living under a rock. I don't think I had ever heard Zebrahead before, but their name sounded vaguely familiar. I popped it in not knowing what I was gonna get, but with ‘zing'-worthy song titles like "Your New Boyfriend Wears Girl Pants" and "Rated ‘U' for Ugly" I was expecting some Blink-style hijinx. I pretty much got that in the title track opener if only in the choruses, with the verses veering more towards a hardcore-meets-rap-rock thing. So I do some research and it turns out Zebrahead have been major label for most of their careers, since 1998's Waste of Mind on Columbia. Missed that one.`98, huh? The pop-punk-meets-rap-rock thing is starting to make sense. They're still goin' down that road though? Really? The other reviews pertaining to the band on this site are overwhelmingly positive with most comments in agreement. But I will not cave -- this shit is WEAK! I want to find that rock and crawl back underneath, never to hear Zebrahead again.

After their bad-assly titled MFZB album in 2003, the band lost their ‘sing' half of the ‘sing/rap' equation, Justin Mauriello, replacing him with Matty Lewis, who apparently sounds pretty much the same. I wouldn't know, but that's what I've heard. Ali Tabatabaee is still handling the rap duties. Just so you know.

All I know is that this album falls into a big formulaic rut right away, with rough-throated rap verses akin to Rage Against the Machine suddenly shifting to NFG pop-punk anthems in every damn song. Well, I guess "Back to Normal" switches things up with the poppiness coming first with light verses and some synth flute. It still has those rap vocals in there though, but the groove of this song makes it sound more natural. "Postcards from Hell" contains my favorite punk rock rhyme: "One, two, fuck you!," but that was only cool when LTJ did it long ago. "Anthem" gives us a little ska, because these guys just can't decide what they wanna do. "Karma Flavored Whiskey" lulls you into thinking they are trying something different with its synth strings and sparse piano plunks, but it quickly descends into Kid Rock territory. "Your New Boyfriend Wears Girl Pants" goes a little emo on us with a slower tempo, and the end result is actually passable.

If I could edit out the rapped verses of every song and just leave the choruses, we'd have a much better album. The chorus on "Anthem" is undeniably catchy, and "Postcards from Hell" gives the best Fall Out Boy sugar-coated hook a run for its money. Even then though, the pop parts are short on substance and it would still be a mediocre album.

I may get shit for this review because, for some reason that is beyond me, there are rabid fans ‘round these parts. Maybe some of our readers got into punk due in part to these guys and have some sort of allegiance to them. I guess I can relate -- I gave later Goldfinger albums a chance for the same reason. But sooner or later you need to realize what made the band big years ago just isn't cuttin' it anymore.