Producer: Atlantic Records
Wow! The first Billy Talent album (2003) was a pleasant surprise to me, and I’ve only just got over that initial impression. Now here it is, Billy Talent II (2003), and there’s a whole new set of mind-numbing tracks to learn. Actually no, mind numbing is the wrong descriptor. I’ve found that Billy Talent actually turns my brain on, and this second album conforms to that belief absolutely. From the first few plucks of the guitar, II is a captivating and aptly named album.
II follows perfectly from Billy Talent, with the same sense of sound and screeching melody, although it strikes me as slightly less piercing than the first album. Similar themes have found their way into the songs as well, including lost souls out on the street, heroin addiction and bitter romance.
The album reached #1 in Canada and Germany, but only charted at an appalling #134 in the States. It’s too bad; the Americans don’t know what they’re missing. But good for the Germans! This is really a great set of songs, and it shouldn’t be missed.
This band has come far since changing its name from Pezz to Billy Talent in 1999, a name inspired by Michael Turner’s Hard Core Logo. Billy Talent was a guitarist in the disturbed fictional band depicted first in novel and later on film. He led an unruly lifestyle and had amphetamine-fuelled band-mates. The name change from Pezz came after the realization that an American punk band had already used the name Billy Talent to release an album in 1990. The ensuing lawsuit has obviously not proved itself a handicap, which just goes to show that you can’t keep a good band down.
I struggle to name the best song on the album, but if pressed, I would recommend Worker Bees or Red Flag. That said, I’m not one to advocate skipping tracks on a CD and this one in particular is one that should be played all the way through. As it turns out, the band agrees. On June 23rd, Billy Talent released the whole album on their MySapce web page, first ensuring that it couldn’t be skipped forward or backwards. Fans desperate for free music were forced to listen to all 13 tracks in correct sequence and judge the CD in its entirety.
Billy Talent II is simple to sell. If you liked the last CD, you need this one. If you couldn’t stand the shouted vocals and pointed strains they last produced, you need not venture into the record store. As for me, I have yet to take it out of the CD player.
Billy Talent (2003). Billy Talent [sound recording]. Atlantic/Wea.
Billy Talent (2006). II [sound recording]. Atlantic/Wea.