…Damn, this album is great!
It takes a little while to catch on, but Taproot’s third album, “Blue Sky Research” really gets under your skin. On my first listen, it sounded like a mess of ideas compiled onto an album. But the more I listened, the more it creeped into my head. I would find myself, hours after having listened, having these sick melodies stuck in my head, courtesy of Taproot.
For starters, this album is a huge departure from the sound of 2000’s “Gift” and their 2002 so-so follow-up, “Welcome.” Their sound definitely moves farther from the nu-metal label (although, they were always above that) and focuses more on catchy riffs and better songwriting. Don’t get me wrong, the band is still here. Songs such as the dark opener “I Will Not Fall For You” and “Facepeeler” are instant classics among the Taproot song-book. But then you have songs that, with a little help from some high-profile people, will shock more than a few ears. The first single, “Calling” alone is worth the purchase of this album, and it was even co-written by Jonah Matranga (Gratitude, Far), which is odd when you consider the music this man has made in his own career. The song is a perfect example of Taproot making an edgy, dark song into something very catchy and very addictive. The first day I had this album, I must’ve repeated this song a dozen times. A more well known collaborator in Billy Corgan helps out on three songs, “Violent Seas,” “Lost In the Woods” and “Promise.” Just like the songs he worked on for Breaking Benjamin’s “We Are Not Alone,” these tracks have the classic ‘Pumpkins stamp on them, and yet, sound just right when filtered through a completely different band. Despite the collaborations (which also include legendary producer Bob Marlette), Taproot still manage to keep their identity through the course of the album. “April Suits, “Facepeeler” and “I Will Not Fall For You” are just as good as anything else on this album, and the band did it themselves. Usually I hate it when groups use outside people to help write songs (the upcoming Korn album has me worried), as it takes away from the authenticity of the music, but I think Taproot have proven themselves before, and on this album, therefore, it’s just not an issue.
I was very disappointed with “Welcome,” as I was a huge fan of “Gift,” and I must say, “Blue Sky Research” gets the group back on track. It may be a bit hard to swallow at first, but it’s a very interesting listen, and I’m sure I will still be listening to this in the years to follow (just like I still do with “Gift”). Just give it a chance. Don’t be turned off by the change. If you’re close-minded enough to shut yourself out by their style, then maybe Taproot just weren’t the band for you in the first place.