Sound — 7
Between the new Hit The Lights album, and the new Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! album, 2015 has been slated to be that easycore revival year by many fans of the genre. And who knows, we might even get a new album from A Day To Remember if they're considered to be under that tag by people. Two weeks ago we had Chunk release their new album, and now Four Year Strong puts the icing on the cake by releasing their new album to make this literally an easycore summer. But no, really, aside from that easycore tag, this year has and will be huge under that pop-punk category. More of under the pop-rock category, All Time Low released a new album a little over a month ago, The Story So Far just released their new one two weeks ago, and now it's time to see bands such as State Champs, The Wonder Years, Knuckle Puck, Handguns, and recently announced releases from Man Overboard, and Neck Deep to take over the pop-punk world. Of course, I could ramble on, and say that this year has so much more to offer other than pop-punk, but that would defeat the purpose of this review by Worcester, Massachusetts band Four Year Strong.
A little less than a year ago, these guys teased us just a little bit with their "Go Down in History" EP, but did it satisfy their listeners? For what its worth, putting 5 tracks on rotation for awhile could get boring, as it all depends on how much you like each track. For me, it was a slight return to form after the arguably lackluster 2011's "In Some Way, Shape, or Form," but there were still questions to be left answered. I remember trying to listen to that album with as clear of an open mind as possible. It worked well for maybe two listens, but eventually things got old real quick. The more radio rock friendly "Just Drive" got tiring and it just seemed like a track they weren't having fun with. I'm not saying that ditching your roots doesn't work, but look at a band like Every Time I Die. The past two albums I've noticed that they include at least one more blues friendly rock track, and it just works for them. That's something FYS could have done, but that's obviously up to them. There are several bands who have ditched their old sound for something new. FYS just decided to release one out of several tracks that go back to that old sound, which is "Stuck in the Middle" (literally the only song off the album I listen to to this day). Now, the question lies here within that I'm sure most of you have been waiting for me to ask. Is this a return to form? From the three songs that leaked upon the album release date, I can easily say they're all better than anything off their EP. "We All Float Down Here" is the perfect lead single. It screams party anthem. The opening guitar riffs leave much to be questioned where the song is going; but once Alan Day's vocals, along with that kick drum, it's quite obvious that this song is going to turn into a headbanger. The chorus in "We All Float Down Here" is one of the catchiest choruses I've heard from these guys in quite some time:
"I'll watch the world go up in flames
I'll strike the match to help you do the same
The time is now, tick tock, its ticking away
So now I'm here to rain on your parade."
Obviously the lyrics are going to come off as a bit similar to 2007's hit single, "Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die," but in the end these lyrics fit better. "Sad enough to say that alone I could barely light a match, but together we can burn this place down." I think another huge highlight on the album is in "I'm a Big, Bright, Shining Star." It's a song I can imagine being another huge hit being played over and over again on my playlist. From the melodic guitar riffs, to Alan Day's anthemic-like vocals, it's difficult to not like this track.
Lyrics — 7
Aside from really enjoying a few tracks on the album, lyrically these guys don't stand out too much, and never have, but they're just as good as its peers in the genre. I'm not a huge fan of the opening track, "I Hold Myself in Contempt," but the lyrics make the song at least worth checking out:
"Just stop the act
You've been climbing on my back to weigh me down
But I adapt
Keeping you and all your baggage off the ground
You're not just another nail in my coffin
You're the box I’m laid to rot in
I'm all in
But don't be surprised if I don't make it out alive
So get a grip
You're losing it
Your time is fading fast
I wont waste another second picking you up when you're falling
Back away I'm anything but ok
What's the point of living if you're already dead?
So take the best of anything I have left
I wont waste my days hating myself to death
What's left to say?
I've been heading down this road, or so I'm told
Apparently I'm out of control
Apparently I'm about to explode
I never thought that I'd be giving you up
I never thought that you'd be holding me back
There will be nothing left of you when I'm through
Because of you the air I breathe is suffocating
I won't waste another second on you
Picking you up when you fall."
Overall Impression — 7
I can't really put a finger on this album. It has its moments, but in the end, nothing really stands out to me aside from the first three tracks that were leaked upon the release date of this album. Maybe I'm just getting old, but you really do need to impress me in order for me to enjoy a pop-punk record. Surely, I've called this easycore a few times, but they have tons of pop-punk influences. The only reason why people would call them easycore is because they rather much quicker than most pop-punk bands in this scene. Like I said, Hit The Lights fits that description as well, and I'd probably throw in Such Gold to tops things off. Take it for what you will, those bands can be examples of bands similar to FYS, but they have their own sound. In the end, however, this album just doesn't cut it enough for me to put on rotation even throughout this summer, but there will still be a few standout tracks to go back to. Songs like "Wipe Yourself Off Man You Dead" has some killer riffs that sound like it came off their debut album, and then you hear "Stolen Credit Card," it sounds like something that could have been off of "Enemy of the World." It's surely not a bad track, just not one I'd go back to very much. The same thing can be said for "The Sound of Your Heart." The other songs I haven't talked about I could honestly do without. They just don't do much for me, but they're all still full of melodic moments, and surely this is definitely a big step up for their last album, but they'll never be able to top their first two albums. Favorite tracks: "We All Float Down Here," "Eating My Words," "Wipe Yourself Off Man You Dead," and "I'm a Big, Bright, Shining Star."