Sound — 8
Most music fans will have either heard of or have an opinion on the chart topping band Cute Is What We Aim For. Whether you like or dislike them, the sheer fact that the Buffalo, New York quartet broke Fueled By Ramen's internal sales record (previously held by a little known band called Panic At The Disco) with debut album The Same Old Blood Rush With A New Touch is something to be amazed by. It is safe to say that the band hasn't changed their sound much on sophomore release Rotation. In that respect, fans of the quartet's debut release will have nothing to worry about as Rotation is very much a continuation from where The Same Old... left off. Regarding new fans, those curious and bold enough to take a listen to the album will probably find something they do like. The hooks and melodies are too catchy to hate, the guitars seem much louder, and the drums and bass seem bigger and bolder than the band's debut offering. Songs such as first single and opening track Practice Makes Perfect, Safe Ride, and Doctor, all seem destined for the charts with addictive choruses and catchy hooks. You may be thinking that all of this seems a little too ordinary and stereotypical of the pop-punk genre. But, with the help of John Feldmann of Goldfinger fame, the band has experimented with different sounds that will help them stand out from the rest of the crowd. The best example would be Hollywood, a track which gets not only the piano, but also horns, a smidgeon of Latin, and a touch of classical guitar involved. Feldmann's class of production can also be heard on Doctor, a track which could be mistaken for a song off Lies for the Liars by The Used if it weren't for Shaant Hacikyan's voice. The track starts with a baby's laugh, which incidentally morphs into guest star Bert McCrackens sinister chuckle, and then at the sound of broken glass the song starts. Bert's menacing signature screams, laughs and whispers can be heard throughout the song faded behind Shaant's strong singing, which is bravely accompanied at one point by horns and bongo-esque drumming. In this case, hearing is believing.
Lyrics — 5
Lyrically, as expected by most pop-punk/ powerpop bands, Hacikyan's lyrics aren't great. Unfortunately, the songs on Rotation are dotted with cheap rhyme schemes. Lines such as If I if I; if I die inside; would anyone realize; I lived a lie from track The Lock Down Denial is cringe worthy enough to make any metal head take a knife to their throat. Fifth track Do What You Do is the perfect example of a lyrically spastic masterpiece. With the first verse penned as: There is an engine in my body; with every beat it lets me breathe; there is a machine within my body; if I could keep up with that machine that's in my body; I could do anything, be anything, see anything; I can feel the beat within my body and consisting of the word 'body' being rhymed a total of four times, you'd be better off deaf rather than having to listen to such childish jujumagumbo. The song tops it off with another cheap rhyme scheme in the chorus: Have you ever been fake; for the sake of saving face; you can work, you can play; from the cradle to the grave; doesn't matter what they say. All in all, Do What You Do is definitely one to skip if crap lyrics drive you round the bend, otherwise in what the other songs lack in lyrical finesse is more than made up for in catchy melodies and hooks.
Overall Impression — 8
First impressions of the album are generally good if you go into it with low expectations. This way, the infectious choruses hit home pretty quickly and you learn to appreciate the album more for what it's worth. Apart from the melodies, another aspect which makes the record rather appealing to the ears is the quirky sounds dotted around the album and tracks. The ghost-like whispers and odd sounding instruments add value to the songs which makes every listen more enjoyable as you start to hear things that you may have missed on your previous listen. Overall, if Cute Is What We Aim For keep creating records like Rotation and The Same Old... and continue to add songs to their already strong back catalogue of tunes, they have the potential to one day lead the genre carved by label mates Panic At The Disco and Fall Out Boy.