Sound — 4
With the release of "Connect," we see Sick Puppies abandon the sound which we came to love for one that's more commercially friendly. Not in the style of previous hits such as "Maybe" and "All the Same," where the typically overdriven guitar is traded for an acoustic and the overall sound is a softer one, but rather a sound which is more suited for a pop station than a rock one. Autotune is abundant, and heard on almost every song. On this record, even the catchy riffs have been taken out. To be fair, "Gunfight" features one of the best riffs the band has ever created, and "Die to Save You" isn't far behind. "Walking Away" has a catchy riff as well, but that's the extent of it. Even Emma's basslines have suffered. While there are still moments of genius scattered throughout the album, they've been dulled down just like everything else.
Lyrics — 5
Shimon Moore's vocals have been a very consistent factor in Sick Puppies' music since the very beginning. However on "Connect" they've suffered. Not as a result of his skill level, but rather as a result of every digital effect the studio had being thrown on top. Not only autotune (although there's quite a bit of it), but other effects as well. We hear some sort of distortion style effect on top on his vocals in "Gunfight," a mistake that ruins an otherwise very solid song. For a large part of the album, his signature edge has been removed. For a polished and pop-like sound instead. In "Die to Save You" and "Under a Very Black Sky," Emma sings some lead, but her brief exposure leaves us questioning "Why not more!?" Her vocals are excellent, it would have been nice if she was featured more. There is a good bit of time when Emma and Shimon both sing, but it seems almost as if they conflict. Fighting for who stands out rather than harmonizing. Lyrically, don't expect anything brilliant. "Gunfight" is catchy and the lyrics will get stuck in your head, but there is nothing outstanding here.
Overall Impression — 4
This is easily the most forgettable rock album I've heard in a long time. When "There's No Going Back" came out, I was worried Sick Puppies turned into another run of the mill pop band. When "Gunfight" and "Die to Save You" debuted, I was a bit more hopeful. However looking at the whole album I see only 3 songs that I would actually pay to have. Those are "Gunfight," "Die to Save You," and "Poison." This is the worst album Sick Puppies has had since the original "Welcome to the Real World." Honestly, it might actually be even worse. The only hope here is that the band realizes that the entire album was a mistake, and corrects themselves with the next. Otherwise, it isn't looking very good at all for Sick Puppies.