Gym Class Heroes, 'The Quilt' (Decaydance/Fueled by Ramen)

6
The Quilt
Critical Mass
Label: Decaydance/Fueled by Ramen

by Mikael Wood

These dudes from upstate New York are the black Eyed Peas of the Warped tour set. When Gym Class Heroes started making underground waves in the early '00s, they were true-school hip-hop defenders. Yet, like the Peas' Fergie-featuring Elephunk, 2006's As Cruel as School Children unveiled a flair for radio fare that has since come to define the band; that disc's Supertramp-biting "Cupid's Chokehold/Breakfast in America" could've been subtitled "Here Is the Love." As with the Peas, the conversion has cost them some old fans. But it has resulted in music that's much more entertaining than their early efforts.

On The Quilt -- which features production by hip-hop A-listers Cool & Dre and The-Dream, as well as Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy -- the Heroes don't phunk with what worked last time: "Blinded by the Sun" swipes a bridge from another cheesy golden oldie ("Sunglasses at Night"), while frontman Travis McCoy lays out his girl troubles in "Drnk Txt Rmeo" over a bouncy reggae groove. Busta rhymes shows up for a left-field cameo in "Peace Sign/Index Down," and that's actually less random than Daryl Hall's appearance in "Live Forever (Fly With Me)."

Sometimes the Heroes lay it on too thick, as in "Cookie Jar," where McCoy's philandering metaphor is so obvious it might not exist. Mostly, though, they demonstrate that pop trumps piety.

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