Son Of Dork, System Of A Down, Fort Minor, Limp Bizkit
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Son Of Dork/
System Of A Down/
Fort Minor/
Limp Bizkit

[The Mail On Sunday, 2005]

TOMORROW'S A RED letter day for people with multi-coloured hair. First up, punk-pop's extensive teenage fanbase can look forward to the return of Busted's James Bourne, at the, um, head of Son Of Dork (I wonder if he, or his fans, or their parents, know the word's derivation?)
 The British offshoot of teen punk owes as much to the comic self deprecation of Wheatus as to its more celebrated touchstone, Green Day. But despite a title that suggests more of same, Welcome To Loserville (Mercury ***) draws cannily on a broader range of influences, and sounds closer to the wry, anecdotal power-pop of Fountains of Wayne. It captures the adolescent teacup storms of genteel English suburbs with engaging humour. John Betjeman might not have approved of such a line as “I saved up for binoculars... to watch you playing badminton with all your slutty friends.” But he'd have understood it.
 The song's the thing, too, on Hypnotize (American ***), the second release in six months from highly evolved melodic thrash-metal act System Of A Down. With 60s psych influences strongly to the fore, this is a much more impressive set than its companion piece, Mesmerize, simply because it's better written. This time, when the staccato riffs dissolve into harmonised choruses, those harmonised choruses are generally pretty damn good.
 Fort Minor is the solo project of Mike Shinoda, who provides the rap element in tantrum-rock behemoths Linkin Park. The Rising Tied (Machine Shop **) is far from a hip hop classic, but it does have its moments - particularly the opening summary of Shinoda's modus operandi, Remember The Name, and Kenji, a timely reminder of America's WWII internment of Japanese citizens. Shorn of guitars and screaming, Shinoda's trademark clinical, meticulous production shines more sleekly than ever.
 The metalheads who, claims James Bourne, want him to die may be “all under nine” - but that would still make them more mentally advanced than nu-metal thunder-stealers Limp Bizkit, whose Greatest Hitz (Geffen no stars) has to be one of the most charmless compendia ever issued by a best-selling band. Rap-rock's oafish fratboy/jock constituency truly found their standard bearers with this lot, and they're welcome to each other.

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