When Gym Class Heroes front-man Travie McCoy began recording sessions for his 2010 solo album "Lazarus", nobody had any idea that a little-known producer/singer named Bruno Mars was about to become a household name. By the time the lead single "Billionaire" was released, it seemed like McCoy has trapped lightning in a bottle, and the song became the ubiquitous pop hit of the summer, selling over 3 million digital downloads alone. Quite a feat for a guy who doesn't really even sing.
After the "Billionaire" hype died down a little, Travie returned to the Gym Class Heroes fold, beginning recording sessions for "The Papercut Chronicles II". The higher profile, though, led to delays and then more delays, and people started to wonder if Gym Class Heroes were over. Mccoy set the record straight in an interview with MTV:
"There were a couple setbacks that were kind of out of our hands, but we just took 'em in stride, and, in a sense, I think they just made the record better," McCoy said. "And I'm super excited, finally, because I was going to have to bite my lip,because I had all these people stoked about 2011 and about this record. I'm excited we finally have a release date and that this album has definitely shaped up to be everything and more."
He wasn't lying. "The Papercut Chronicles II" is everything a Gym Class Heroes record should be. Namely, it's a whole lot of fun. Lead single "Stereo Hearts" continues the collaboration theme that most of their recent singles have shown. This time, Maroon 5's Adam Levine shares vocal duties with McCoy. It's got an island vibe, just like "Billionaire", but with a pop sheen that's equal parts Katy Perry and Sublime.
There are certainly missteps here. The overworked and overwrought "Holy Horseshit Batman" immediately springs to mind, with its barely-disguised aping of U2's "New Years Day", one of the most overused samples in hip-hop. Add in a showoff Eddie Van Halen style guitar solo, and the whole tracks feels nauseating.
Gym Class Heroes have never tried to feel important, at least not in the Radiohead sense of the word, and that's exactly what makes the group's latest album so endearing. The accidental genius of a track like new single "Ass Back Home" doesn't need to be world-changing. It just makes you feel good, and that's a lot harder to do than you might think.