Sound — 6
Composing their debut break-through record I Hate Every Day Without You Kid, Drive By based it on the experience they all had before becoming a band. The album was inspired by the feeling the guys got when they realized they don't want life to pass by. Each one has had hard times and the band was the way to start a new life. To get rid of his old bad habits and get his life back on track, vocalist Todd Price began writing songs. The music that came out, appeared to be the fusion of punk and emo -- pretty aggressive and gloomy at times, but with a place for hope and a major chord in every song. Recording their first album, Drive By took it serious -- starting the process from building their own studio. Now they claim carpentering was just as big part of the recording as writing guitar solos. Some tracks were recorded twice or three times while the band was looking for the right sound. Having gained some experience in different bands before Drive By, the guys felt self-confident to produce the record themselves and are quite happy nobody was pointing them what to do. That might be the reason why the album sound monotone sometimes. Punk-based tracks are pretty mediocre with the remaining drum beat and similar guitar effects. Drive By shines on slower tracks, while the faster ones seem like they've been tortured out of the songwriter. Probably, still trying to cope with his problems, Price is best in expressing his pain in ballads. The highest point of the record is the beautiful slow The Hand That Cuts. It is wonderfully put together with the balance between distorted and lights clear guitars and the lyrics willing to melt any girl's heart. Spending Time Alone was the first song Price wrote for the album. There's something wrong with the first part of it -- feels like the volume level on your CD player suddenly broke down. Some weird sort of low-fi? The band's got problems with the songs' endings. A lot of tracks just break after another verse or bridge. Guitars are melodic and Drive By creates the wall of sound by layering melodies upon each other. The guitars work is done very carefully, but the tracks are often overloaded with it. It's like the band doesn't feel the right moment to stop.
Lyrics — 5
The poetry is pretty amateurish -- the phrases are either clichd or primitive. A fine piece of Price's lyrics would be A million frosted souls, a million frosted windows/ No need to leave your name/ Help is on the way. He rhymes along/hold on and I would die for you/ If you want me to. I used to think these kinds of lines were overused by romantic musicians of the past century. There are a lot of all-together and following-the-melody back vocals. Some pats of them quite obviously remind of a crowd of drunk teenagers with no clue about singing. Price's vocals are not too professional either -- it's whining at it's most emo songs and in some higher more intense moments the voice tends to break. Though Price manages to create an image of a rock macho in The Hand That Cuts with his low baritone and raspy vocals.
Overall Impression — 6
It's obvious the guys have worked hard on their debut record (just the fact that they were choosing from nearly fifty songs that were ready for the album is impressive), but I should admit they still need some experience and music taste. The better parts of the album were written instinctively. Maybe it wasn't the best decision to produce the record themselves... Seems like the band still feel themselves like pupils releasing their debut. They're afraid to be worse than other new bands (pupils of their class), carefully following the verse-chorus formula and other rules about how to write a catchy song. The tracks are radio-friendly, aiming to hit not a very sophisticated auditory, but they still need more hooks. I Hate Every Day Without You Kid shows the guys have potential, but are still shy to reveal all of it.