Sound: Four Year Strong have been around for a few years now, playing pop punk the way they want. Their sound features pop punk power chords with some hardcore-like breakdowns (dubbed 'happy hardcore' by some). In order to show some of the band's influences, they have released a collection of covers from the 1990's. The 90's is a time in music that influenced a lot of the current bands today that have younger members, and Four Year Strong wanted to revive some notable songs from this time period.
The album features covers from bands like The Smashing Pumpkins, Third Eye Blind, No Doubt, Nirvana, and Everclear, which happens to be the first band covered on the album. 'So Much For The Afterglow' opens the album immediately grabbing the listeners attention, combining an already catchy song with the band's memorable pop punk chords. The next song on the album 'Story Of The Girl' (originally by Nine Days) is one of those 'one hit wonders' that most people remember from the 90's. The band's rendition is pretty similar to the original song, but you can tell that the band threw in their own twists in the sound to make it more relatable for their fans. One of the best covers on the album is 'Ironic' (originally by Alanis Morrissette), that starts out similar to the orginal song, soft and calm, then picks up to a faster pop punk sound. The cover is pretty nicely done compared to some of the other songs on the album. The band also brought some guest vocalists for this album including Keith Buckley (from Every Time I Die), Peter 'JR' Wasilewski and Buddy Schaub (from Less Than Jake), and Travis McCoy (from Gym Class Heroes). Travis McCoy really shines in the cover of 'Fly' (originally by Sugar Ray) adding his own personal touch to the track's spoken parts.
This album features some great covers including 'Bullet With Butterfly Wings' (The Smashing Pumpkins), 'Semi-Charmed Life' (Third Eye Blind), 'Spiderwebs' (No Doubt), and 'In Bloom' (Nirvana). All the tracks are done really well for a cover album, and each song features its own twist from Four Year Strong. The only problem that I see with this album is that it isn't original songs from the band, though it leaves listeners wanting a new album. // 8
Lyrics: The lyrics of the album aren't exactly original, but the lyrics of the songs are memorable. As for the singing, the vocals of Four Year Stron are either something you love or hate. The band utilizes duel vocalists on all their songs, sometimes throwing in some screams from their keyboardist. The vocals aren't perfect, but in an age of auto-tune, it's nice to hear some vocals that aren't digitalized. // 7
Overall Impression: A great band covering great songs, what more could you ask for? 'Explains It All' is a stellar collection of songs covered by a great band. If you haven't listened to Four Year Strong, make sure you check them out as they gain popularity by the day. With a good line up of bands covered and some notable guest vocalists, this album is great for any 90's fan or even a pop punk listener in general. Make sure you check out this album or the band if you want something a little different from your normal listening or just want a little bit of nostalgia. Four Year Strong will definitely be getting more notable time as they get set to release a new album in the next several months. // 9
- Dylan Newell (c) 2009