Et Tu, Brute? review by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

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  • Released: Mar 15, 2013
  • Sound: 5
  • Lyrics: 3
  • Overall Impression: 3
  • Reviewer's score: 3.7 Poor
  • Users' score: 5.3 (6 votes)
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus: Et Tu, Brute?

Sound — 5
Stumbling their way onto stage after three subsequent failures, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are back for more with their 10th anniversary EP, "Et Tu, Brute?" This is especially amusing considering the supposed historical context of the phrase, being known as the dying words of Julius Caesar in Shakespeare's titular play. Whether or not RJA reckon themselves a decaying force of previous greatness, it certainly fits the bill for a band with an arguably weak discography to boast famous last words for an anniversary release. Despite that the record opens with a brooding bass note, the real first impression comes from the song's opening line: "Let's take it back to days when we still were the crazy ones." It seems the band remembers its previous fame as greater than it really was. From there, it's the same old, same old. A few thankful changes have been made: the same imitation hardcore of "Hell Or High Water" doesn't rear its ugly head too often. Actually, the band seems to take a step back into the territory of its first couple of releases, with "Cards" and "Remember Me" hearkening to their self-titled debut. It's comfortable, easy to digest, and a relief after "Am I The Enemy"'s dull excess. Whether or not this was intentional is up to the listener, but at the very least, the throwbacks to mid-2000s emo will be a relief to any who enjoyed "Don't You Fake It" and especially the debut. However, the nostalgia (oh, and they do so love to remind listeners of how they're ten whole years old) wears out quickly and, as is RJA tradition, bizarre and poorly-executed elements are thrown in out of nowhere. Even more so than on 2009's "Lonely Road," the guitars are overblown and solos break out in places any casual rock fan would expect from the most cliche of their favorite tunes. Even more than pretentious than the EP's opening lyric are some of the choices made in constructing these songs. The industrial-laden "Chariot," for example, sure seems eager to convince itself of its own prowess, despite being incredibly safe. "Chariot" perfectly continues another RJA tradition: inflated closing numbers, this time with a laughable fade-out. Among the droning chords of RJA's drop-C fancy and striking hesitance with risk-taking stands the track list itself. Whatever the quality of each cut, there seems to be at least one representing each era of the band's career. With six total, it doesn't seem entirely impossible that "Remember Me" gives a nod to the pop-punk debut, "Cards" recalls "Don't You Fake It," and so forth. Even "Hell Or High Water" (God forbid) gets some love with "Wide Is The Gate." Granted, if any of these is an indicator of what's to come, audiences will likely continue to ignore them. After ten years, the only thing The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus seems to have learned is how to milk its own success. Unfortunately, that fact doesn't come with the consciousness of never having been as grand as they seem to think. "Et Tu, Brute?" is as musically shallow as "Lonely Road" and as instrumentally dull as "Am I The Enemy." The bizarre placement of solos in the middle of "You Can't Trust Anyone These Days" and "Wide Is The Gate" apparently attempts to garner respect from lovers of post-hardcore and even hard rock. It's just too much. Coupled with apparent reminiscence of former glory, "Et Tu" feels less like a step forward than a ridiculous celebration of itself. The result is a sad would-be "best of" that escapes the public eye. While the band may have debuted with some potential, they've now beat the same horse with enough frequency that it would take a miracle to reach the long-dead success of "Face Down."

Lyrics — 3
Coming straight from the heart of the emo (sorry, screamo) scene, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus pens its lyrics with as much earnestness as they can muster. Let the cringe begin. Reflecting the same shortcomings of countless acts in the genre, "Et Tu, Brute?" comes off as an alternation between self-adoring and whiny. "I've had these problems for some time now/There's something very wrong" is hardly a classic, and the earlier excerpt from "The Crazy Ones" is hilariously vain. Some bits come off as just out of place, swapping purpose for melodrama: "See the flames consume you/Shades of red and blue in turn" bursts in the midst of a pretty light pop-punk track. The weakest moments are in "Chariot," perhaps due to singer Ronnie Winter's abominable performance highlighting the sniveling nature of the lyrics: "She worked every single day of the week... On that hospital bed, she waits to die alone." "Et Tu, Brute?" has all of RJA's lyrical nuances being the lack thereof. There is neither an ounce of humor nor humility. If anything, the finale's religious imagery smugly panders to the Christian radio audience found during the run of "Am I The Enemy." Ronnie Winter, as mentioned, makes lines that might escape notice with other performance blatantly irritating. He cripples even the strongest musical moments. His tenor whine, interwoven with the occasional pitchy scream, sounds out of place throughout the record; "Cards" opens with instrumentation initially more akin to Guns N' Roses than emo-pop, but Winter does his best to depress listeners into suspending disbelief. When he recalls "how it felt when everything was fun" (try not to giggle at the line itself), one wonders when exactly that may have been, since he sounds miserable 99% of the time his mouth is open. The only reason for which they would "be remembered as the crazy ones" is for thinking anyone remembers anything about them, yet Winter sings it as though it's Newton's Fourth. While there were days in which it wasn't difficult to get away with that kind of droning, the 2000s are over. Oblivious to the fact, Winter is yet another component keeping The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus steeped firmly in an extinct genre.

Overall Impression — 3
"Et Tu, Brute?" does less for its makers than against. It adds yet another mediocre piece to an increasingly ugly discography, it puts more between their current state and the glory days (whatever those were), and it reminds audiences that the emo band with a ridiculous name is still in high school. The spurts of bliss is nostalgic cuts is overshadowed by thinly-veiled emo pop and melodramatic post-hardcore. For as helpful as a compilation-style EP can be to boost morale, the band had already tried and failed with "Hell Or High Water." "Et Tu" is no different, trying to summarize just how great they think they are in six short-sighted songs and once again falling short. It's remarkably ironic that a band called The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus takes itself as seriously as Morrissey, and yet here they are. Pass.

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7 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Gerard Way Jr
    >Writing reviews at 1 am >Not proofreading goddammit I am retarded
    why did you even bother reviewing this may i ask? you seem to look at it with objective hate. i just dont understand what the point was
    Gerard Way Jr
    There is no point; I'd just popped it in and decided to review. Why would one shy from reviewing just because the record wasn't any good? I dunno about hate - I don't spend enough energy on the thing to hate it. It's just not any good.
    you spent more wordspace in the review talking about their other albums and "ugly discography" than you did talking about this goddamn EP that you're supposedly reviewing. i honestly think i learnt more about their other albums from this review than i did this one. so i basically know everything sounds like everything else.
    Gerard Way Jr
    I mention pop-punk, emo, and hardcore influence in the sound segment. Specifics to songs are all over the place: "the guitars are overblown...", "throwbacks to mid-2000s emo", "The industrial-laden "Chariot"," "attempts to garner respect from lovers of post-hardcore and even hard rock", etc. Any reference I made to the other records was for the purpose of outlining this release's lack of risk-taking and innovation, which is passively saying something about the songs themselves. Learning about the other releases also would've been difficult, seeing as I don't specifically describe any but (briefly) "Hell Or High Water" and the fact that they're an emo band.
    Although i would agree they have past their heyday and are just writing for the heck of it, i thought it was funny how you bagged on their whole discography but wrote a review on their other album "Dont you fake it" giving them an 8.3, which i consider a great score, and wishing them luck in the future.
    Gerard Way Jr
    Oh, man, that review is ancient. 2008 or something ridiculous. Pay it no mind. I'd been rewriting old stuff for awhile now and hadn't yet gotten around to that one (it's literally at the bottom of the list). The highest I'd give any RJA is the 5 I gave their debut. Possibly a 5.3-5.7 for DYFI. Though do note that I'm kind to DYFI and the self-titled in the review. While they're not perfect, the biggest issues I take are with everything from Lonely Road on.