Billy Talent Billy Talent II

Having milked their three-year-old major label debut for all the singles they could, Billy Talent finally get their collective asses in gear to record a new album. BTII takes the high voltage quartet in a slightly more commercial direction than their last disc, which despite the band’s antithetical Refused meets Good Charlotte aesthetic, featured some stellar musicianship and raised the bar on what mainstream pop punk could sound like. With the follow-up, the band formerly known as Pezz have retreated somewhat from the edginess of their self-titled record and polished it down to a more palatable radio-friendly sheen. That’s not to say the disc doesn’t contain a few flashes of greatness because it certainly does. It’s just that Canada already has one Sum 41 and there are moments on BTII (most notably on the lead-off single "A Devil in a Midnight Mass”) where I found myself asking if we really need another. Hopefully this won’t impact on their usually energetic live shows. (Warner)