Sick Puppies
"Dressed Up As Life"

(Virgin Records 2007)Sick Puppies - Dressed Up As Life

Hoping to follow in the footsteps of the success of fellow Australians Silverchair, Sick Puppies are well known in their homeland but relatively unknown Stateside. But Sick Puppies have a head start that Daniel Johns and his mates never had. With the help of a YouTube hit in their song "All The Same," the band is not completely unknown here with their Hinder meets Nickelback sound. Bringing to mind many of the post-grunge meets hard rock bands that strike a pop pose, "Dressed Up As Life" is edgy but still melodic as it pounds, fueled by frontman Shimon Moore's fury filled lyrics.

Power ballads, like the inviting opening track "My World," may start slow but quickly take off with soaring choruses. Moore wretches hard-edged riffs from his guitar on "Pitiful" as he gets an attitude that continues throughout most of the album, most notably on "Issues" where he sings, "Why am I filled with hate?...I like to blame my parents. I'm sure you do the same." The speeding instrumentation of "Cancer" pulls back for a power pop chorus much the same as on "Deliverance" where heavy riffs break for a melodic chorus. Still seething, "Howard's Tale" keeps things interesting with an engaging guitar riff that weaves itself through the verses.

With all the hype surrounding Sick Puppies, the band does, in part, deliver. With a full sound, mostly due to loud guitar riffs, "Dressed Up As Life" has its moments where you might catch yourself actually enjoying a song -- whether you will admit that fact is another story. But the album becomes predictable very quickly as the band stick to a strict formula of reserved introductions that open up into soaring choruses fuelled by power chords and uncertain rage. But in the end, Sick Puppies do not challenge themselves or listeners enough as "Dressed Up As Life" is lacking in substance despite its desperate attempts and, as a result, demands little.

C+

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