Sound — 7
It would be an understatement to say that "Common Courtesy" was a highly anticipated album by A Day To Remember's fans. With stories of the band suing its label and a nearly three-year wait, "Common Courtesy" had a lot to prove. All I can say is that for fans of the band, it was well worth the wait. "Common Courtesy" opens with the pop punk ode to the band's hometown, "City of Ocala," a great display of A Day To Remember's ability to write catchy pop punk. Following it is "Right Back at It Again," a song unofficially released prior to the album and done in similar style to the song before, but with more hardcore traces. From then on out, "Common Courtesy" oscillates between heavy and soft. The best example of this is how "Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way" and "End of Me" are right next to each other. The first is straight metalcore and about two minutes of screaming and chugging riffs. The second is more of a ballad, using an acoustic guitar at the beginning and ending with an emotional chorus. The final song on "Common Courtesy," "I Remember" serves as a recollection of the band's touring experiences, ending with just the band talking about the various things that happened while on the road. What's interesting about this record is that it makes it look like A Day To Remember have gotten heavier and poppier at the same time. On "Common Courtesy," you'll find acoustic ballads ("End of Me"), in-your-face metalcore ("Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way" and "Violence"), pop punk songs ("City of Ocala" and "Life @ 11"), and sometimes a combination of any of those different styles ("Sometimes You're the Hammer, Sometimes You're the Nail" and "Dead and Buried"). In that sense, the album is very much A Day To Remember, but there is something different on the album that wasn't on any of the previous releases. It's hard to put into words, but it can almost be described as a more refined sound. "Common Courtesy" shows that this is a band that has progressed in musicianship over the past three years. Sound is more diverse on this record than any of their previous releases, and that's a good thing. In addition, the emotional "I'm Already Gone" exhibits a quality of A Day To Remember that is rarely seen: an ability to do more than just the formulaic combination of pop punk and metalcore. It is still obvious, though, that A Day To Remember just play what they think sounds cool. The only difference is that the band has become better at writing songs and playing music.
Lyrics — 7
"Common Courtesy" has a few themes throughout it, but the most prevalent one is the feelings that come with the success A Day To Remember has had. "City of Ocala" features some of my favorite lyrics on the album in its chorus: "This is our corner of the world/ Where we come to be ignored/ This is our point where we return/ This is where I came from/ This is what made us who we became/ Where they know me, not just my name/ There's not another place the same/ This is where I came from." This shows how most of the lyrical writing is on the album, simple, yet not bad because of that. Jeremy McKinnon remarked in an interview that he has become better at getting ideas across to people through lyrics, and this album certainly shows that. A Day To Remember have once again proven that they can write a chorus that will stick in your head. While covering topics like touring, the legal battle with their label, and one song targeted at "revenge porn" website creator Hunter Moore ("Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way"), A Day To Remember stays consistent with the quality of lyrics they have done so far. Overall the lyrics are well done on "Common Courtesy."
Overall Impression — 8
In my opinion, this is A Day To Remember's best work yet. They manage to display a variety of song types with success and it really shows how much they have improved as musicians. While not a groundbreaking record by any means, it certainly solidifies that A Day To Remember will stay relevant within their scene. This was definitely an album made for both the long time fans of the band, with traces of older material peppered throughout it, and designed to bring in new fans, with elements of a new, progressed sound throughout the record. Overall, the record was catchy, heavy at the right moments, and soft at the right moments, too, basically what you would expect from an A Day To Remember record. "Common Courtesy" is a solid record from a band with a history of solid recordings (unless yo don't buy the pop punk/metalcore sound) and it shows A Day To Remember's best music to date.