Following a hugely problematic four years in which fourth album The Betrayed was written, scrapped, written again and then seen as a disappointment, Lostprophets pretty much disappeared to work on their fifth album which held great significance for their career even before its inception. And on first listen it seems that the band who rose in a blaze of glory every time they were doubted have finally succumbed to the flames of mediocrity. Explore the album properly though and let it crawl under your skin and you'll realise that this really isn't the case at all and what you'll find here, if you give it the time it requires, are songs of the quality that the band were synonymous with for most of the 00s.
Switchblade opener Bring 'Em Down for instance feels like a mix of the band's classic first three albums with huge hooks, piercing electronics and frontman Ian Watkin's triumphant "Bring That Beat Back!" in the song's murderous climactic breakdown and its successor We Bring An Arsenal possesses a huge chant-along chorus that returns the massive sound that was largely lost on The Betrayed. Look further, the nostalgia-filled gargantuan chorus of A Song For Where I'm From is irrepressible, while Japanese bonus track Undefeated is possibly the best song the band have written since 2006's Liberation Transmission and UK bonus tracks If You Don't Stand For Something, You'll Fall For Anything and The Dead, taken from the scrapped sessions for their ill-fated fourth album, convey the brilliance that could have filled it. This is a record that is to be explored and pulled apart rather than just casually thrown on the stereo.
It's not all a victory unfortunately with A Little Reminder That I'll Never Forget turning a decent hook into an electro-fuelled dirge and Dirty Little Heart feeling like something the band have thrown out in a couple of hours, raising suspicions about who decided the album's tracklist and running-order, but ignore those and what you are left with is a puzzle of songs that are a treat to explore and prove that the Prophets are back and only getting stronger again. Indulge in this and give it the time it deserves and you'll remember that Lostprophets are one of the best we have.