Sound — 8
Those feel-good crunk rockers Family Force 5 are back with a new album, and the title is a pretty good indicator of what to expect in terms of the musical style they're bringing to the table. Dance Or Die is heavily rooted in, you guessed it, dance music. The band cleverly intertwines some great guitar distortion in the mix, and there are moments when a few tracks lean in a much harder direction. It probably would not come as a huge surprise that Family Force 5 might be delving into the dance pop genre with titles like Party Foul, or Get Your Back Off The Wall. That being said, if there is any part of you that enjoys a good groove, you'll probably find Dance Or Die a refreshing change from the usual rock fare. The title track starts everything off with a sound deeply rooted in the R&B genre. The band's previous album Business In The Front/Party In The Back didn't waste time in throwing out a bunch of sampling out in the first track, but the band reins that side in -- at least for a little while. Dance Or Die is not quite as wacky as what we've heard in the past from Family Force 5, and actually sticks to a pretty traditional format. If there's a song that could be a shoe-in for a radio single, Dance Or Die is the one. While Dance Or Die does make for a good kick-off song, there are tracks that are much more satisfying for the fact they do get a bit more daring or experimental. There's usually a funky rhythm injected into most of the songs, but Get Your Back Off The Wall goes in a very different direction. In ways it has the same sound as one of Aerosmith's heavier offerings, and you wouldn't necessarily think of the club scene after hearing it. Between the screamed chorus and the heavy use of Derek Mount's distorted guitars in key moments, it packs a much bigger punch than most of the other tracks. Another song that has the same feel is D-I-E 4 Y-O-U. As ridiculous as the title is, it's still a fairly rocking track. A word of warning: a few tracks sound eerily like something a boy band would produce. How In The World and Share It With Me could easily have been made by 'N Sync, simply for the fact that the guitars are deeply hidden in the mix and you're left with some mellow beats, relationship-themed lyrics, and tweaks to Solomon Old's voice (think Cher's Believe). If you enjoy the overall fun and spirited sound of Family Force 5, however, those few tracks won't really alter your opinion of Dance Or Die.
Lyrics — 8
Much like the funky, club-inspired music behind Family Force 5, the lyrical content also tends to revolve around dancing and more dancing. It's actually a similar approach to Andrew W.K.'s pro-party songs, and in a way it does help the band to carve out a core audience. While there are a few songs that explore relationships, getting out on the dancefloor does take precedence on the aptly titled album Dance Or Die.
Overall Impression — 8
Many of you might be scared away by Family Force 5's love affair with shaking their money maker, but Dance Or Die does delve into quite a few musical styles. Yes, the synth and vocal tweaks do tend to give many of the songs a pop feel, but there are also about 4 songs that give distortion and aggressive vocals the spotlight. You'll probably still feel the urge to get on the dancefloor with the heavier tracks, but then again, that does seem to be the point of the album.