Sound — 9
Well, here we are at Funeral For a Friend's 4th album. This is probably their most important record yet, because after the mighty disappointment of Tales don't Tell Themselves, they had to pull something out of the bag to set their careers back on the uphill. Fortunately, this record is definitely good enough to do just that. The band have dropped the Pop Rock/80s style they used on Tales and gone on to yet another new sound. This time around, they almost sound like a mixture of Their first album, Hours, and something new. This new element is most prevalent on songs like "Maybe I am?" and "You Can't see the Forest for the Wolves". It's pretty unique, and hopefully the band can develop even further into it on their next record. This is definitely their most innovative record to date, because though Casually Dressed and Deep In Conversation was a near perfect album, it was almost like a perfect cliche - it didn't branch out much from the genre, just did everything better than any other band doing the style. Anyways, the band are definitely on to something with this record and once they tour it and it catches on, will probably elevate them to new levels of popularity.
Lyrics — 8
Matt Davies lyrics have always been a lot more intelligent than most modern rock bands, but here he's branched out, probably due to being a lot more free now the band are using their own record label. Not a single complaint lyrically, and his singing has definitely improved a lot as well, as can be heard on tracks like "Waterfront Danceclub" (although possibly the weakest song on the album, Matt really shows his vocal range and ability in this track), and he's also gotten a lot more catchy with his vocal melodies. A highlight of this album - although equally emotional to the first two records, there is no whining about failed relationships or other self pitying elements. Davies lyrical focus has shifted to larger issues, it seems.
Overall Impression — 10
I'm going to give a lowdown on each track: 01.Rules and Games: probably one of the bands best songs right off the bat. Nothing amazingly unique or different going on in this track, but the chorus and the bridge after the second chorus are almost melodic perfection (as in, they're really f--king catchy and uplifting). It's a very upbeat song, similar to Casually Dressed in vibe, heaviness and melody. 9/10. 02.To Die Like Mouchette: again one of the bands best tracks to date and a very poppy song, but it also manages to stay within the bounds of the record and is anything but generic. The chorus is extremely chant-along, and catchy. This is joint with "Someday the Fire" for my second favourite track on the record. 10/10 03.Kicking and Screaming: although a terrible choice for a single, being the poppiest and most "Tales don't tell Themselves" song on the record, this is still a decent song with a good chorus and bridge. Just not what the band should really be doing, their at their best with their more unique and offbeat songs. 7/10 03.Constant Illuminations: probably the second heaviest song on the record, this song is a great blend of heaviness and catchiness, with interesting guitar work throughout. The chorus is great. The "spirit dies within" section is very welcome as it contains the first part of Ryan Richard's screaming on the record, an element missing from their last two records. 8/10 04.Maybe I am?: my favourite track on this record. A great combination of a thudding, melancholic verse and an upbeat, catchy, emotional chorus. Awesome lyrics, great riffs, and a fantastic bridge. 10/10 05.You Can't See the Forest for the Wolves: this is definitely the heaviest and most interesting song on the record, with a clean intro which then blazes into an extremely heavy verse riff and a wall of sound chorus. This song is similar to "Bullet Theory" in that it branches out from the record at the right moment and is one of those songs you could only associate with FFAF. 8/10 06.Building: a very strong ballad, although as many people have said, could do with a little bit more meat, as in, another guitar line, maybe made a little longer and add some drums in there. But this is another emotional song, I'm assuming about the hopelessness of being poor/homeless ("tin can in hand, waiting for god to come around"). 7.5/10 07.Beneath the Burning Tree: the most "pop punk" song on the record, this is quite the marmite song - you'll either love it or hate it, because it's generic - but extremely well done. Personally I think it's great, with a catchy chorus and an even catchier second half which pans into chants of "I sat beneath the burning tree/I never gave my world away, maybe I should... maybe I could". I'd give this song an 8/10. 08.Someday the Fire: joint with To Die like Mouchette for my joint second favourite, this is a very interesting song in that it's dynamic, sounds like it could have been on Casually Dressed, but is extremely catchy all at the same time. This track has the whole package as far as FFAF are concerned - great riffs, a great chorus, and a unique element which keeps it interesting and not generic. 10/10. 09.Waterfront Danceclub: this is the only moment where this album falters for me, with no real hook and generic riffs, although some may appreciate the heaviness, but it's made all the more disappointing by the fact that the intro gets you ready for a kick in the balls of a song, but fails to deliver. If they had screamed the entire song, I think it would be awesome, but instead there are vocal melodies throughout which don't really work. 6/10. 10.Charlie Don't Surf: a very unique and laid back song, which doesn't try too hard to be super melodic where it may have worked, but also has some great guitar lines and probably the best lyrics on the album. This song is actually kind of sentimental in that the melodies are very melancholic and emotional in parts, but also don't really try to tear jerk or whine. 7.5/10 11.Ghosts a song which is immediately reminescent of Hours, and would have fit perfectly on that record. However, this song is actually, in my opinion, better than anything on Hours. A song which seems to be about child abuse, this is a very powerful and heavy song, with a unique chorus, not trying to be melodic so much as have a wall of sound, as the melody is saved for the bridge, which is very melodic and heavy at the same time. 9/10. 12.Constant Resurrections: this song just misses the mark, in that it's a very interesting concept, but just misses out with a few parts which don't really work. However, I definitely hope they pursue something in this style in future, because there's potential for some epic material, which is hinted at in this song. Also, the last minute is a very good epic way to close the record. 7/10.