Sound — 8
A Day to Remembers fifth album starts out with a punch in the face, with one of the heavier songs on the disc, Sticks & Bricks. Tuned to B-flat and consisting mostly of Jeremy McKinnons very improved screamed vocals, it is certainly a head banger. But, the majority album does not stay this way; the exceptions being 2nd Sucks and You be Tails, I'll Be Sonic. The other seven songs have little to no screaming in them, making the album as a whole tend to a much more pop oriented sound. Songs like It's Complicated and All Signs Point To Lauderdale feel more like a (insert pop punk band of your choosing here) song than the A Day to Remember most are familiar with. That being said however, the guitar work in many cases still feels like it could have growls over top of them. Case in point, This is the House That Doubt Built (one of the albums highlights) has a verse riff consisting of palm muted chords that would work just as well with a scream as they do with the melody Jeremy sings. This album also marks new guitarist Kevin Skaff's record debut, and his influences certainly shine through in This is The House That Doubt Built, with a riff in the verse that could be a Killswitch Engage riff, and then again at the end of the song, where both guitars harmonize on another riff.
Lyrics — 8
Those familiar with ADTR's older work know that McKinnon's lyrics are not always... happy. This album is no exception, with lines like "All the things you love are all the things I hate, how did we get here in the first place?" screamed right where you might expect "This is a battleground!" in the song You Be Tails, I'll Be Sonic; or "I speak the truth and everyone else knows it, so set your ego to the side and the the F*** over it," from 2nd Sucks. There are lighter hearted lyrics on this album too, Where Jeremy sings about not fitting in, hating Fort Lauderdale, being better off without his ex-girlfriend (he's never been one to pout about breakups,) and a few other topics that probably wouldnt be out of place if Taking Back Sunday wrote the song. Jeremy has dropped the high pitched whiny singing for something a little more real, and has greatly improved his screaming ability. The guest vocals have been dropped, with Skaff picking up backing vocals, who definitely has the talent to prove that ADTR does not need guest vocalists anymore.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, the album is not as good as their last effort Homesick, but is a good CD. The CD does tend to the pop punk side more than the hardcore this time around, but if you are already a fan of ADTR, chances are you wont mind it. Its apparent that, while they want to appeal to more people, they are also staying true to the original pop punk+hardcore formula, keeping older fans happy. Stand out tracks from the album: Track 4: This is the House That Doubt Built Track 5: 2nd Sucks Track 8: You Be Tails, I'll Be Sonic Track 6: Better Off This Way