Rhythm & Views

Gym Class Heroes

Although in his mid-20s, rapper Travis McCoy perfectly captures the seriocomic frustration of a brighter-than-average adolescent male on the third album by this alternative hip-hop quartet.

The foundation for the groovy music--which references not only Prince and Funkadelic but Burt Bacharach and Philly-style soul--is built on live bass, drums, guitars and keyboards.

The CD was released by the vanity label overseen by Pete Wentz of the pop-punk Fall Out Boy; that band's lead singer, Patrick Stump, co-produced the recording. Gym Class Heroes have toured and shared the stage with such alternative rock acts as The Academy Is ... , whose frontman William Beckett, croons the chorus on "7 Weeks."

Although McCoy spends most of the album in lovelorn/horndog mode--the epitome of which is "New Friend Request," in which unrequited love is updated for the MySpace age--he accomplishes this without any allusions to pimping or hos.

He also tackles a few other subjects, such as on the opener "The Queen and I," in which his protagonist expresses deep concern for a girlfriend's alcoholism. Ten songs in, McCoy finally picks up the hip-hop battle cudgel on "Biters Block" (featuring guest rapper Speech), which serves as a great example of how he maintains an abstract indie-rap flow while slipping into a harder style like that of Kanye West or Jay-Z.

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