Sound — 7
They say that if a product is good, there won't only be one version of it. That's why several companies make cola, and that's why We Are The In Crowd can be another Paramore and do alright. In fact, since Paramore has strayed away from the style that they were known for back in the days of "Riot!," We Are The In Crowd filled in that hole where people were looking for more of that recipe of music. After breaking into the scene in 2010 with their debut EP, "Guaranteed to Disagree," they released their debut album, "Best Intentions," in 2011, and then proceeded to tour with similar-niched bands, like All Time Low, Mayday Parade and Breathe Carolina. Last year, We Are The In Crowd released two singles from their sophomore album, "Weird Kids," which further showed that they would continue holding the reins of female-led pop punk music, but now that the entire album is available to listen to, it's evident that the band has more in mind than just making the same kind of songs each time.
For the most part, "Weird Kids" is a juiced-up, Paramore-inspired pop punk album just like their debut album, "Best Intentions." Songs like "Attention," "Dreaming Out Loud," "Remember (To Forget You)," "Reflections," and "The Best Thing (That Never Happened)" provide the proper fix of pop punk on the album, with uncomplicated guitar-lines and bass-lines and fast but not complex drum-lines. Frontwoman Taylor Jardine's vocals are solid throughout the album, and Jardine shares lead vocal duty with guitarist Jordan Eckes in the album, with the exceptions of "Long Live the Kids," "The Best Thing (That Never Happened)," "Don't You Worry," and "Windows in Heaven."
The real thing to pay attention to with the sound of the album, however, are the ways We Are The In Crowd tries to branch out musically in order to make "Weird Kids" more than a one-dimensional pop punk album. "Long Live the Kids" starts off as a heartfelt ballad, with strings, piano and Jardine's lone vocals; "Manners" is a hybrid between a synth-pop-inspired duet between Jardine and Eckes in the verses and their tried-and-true pop punk style in the choruses; "Don't You Worry" uses a drum machine and a lead fiddle line in the verses; and "Come Back Home" follows the route of pop-rock, taking a break from the loud power chords and utilizing an acoustic guitar as the dominant element of sound. The black sheep song on the album, and also the most mature, is "Windows in Heaven," which takes a complete break from the pop punk and shifts into a slow gear. With nothing but a faint synth line, kicks and claps in the verses, and acoustic guitar and string melodies in the choruses, Jardine's vocals take the spotlight and put forth what she's made of, and she does it well. But of course, this song sticks out on a limb, so if you're listening to the album for the pop punk, chances are you'll opt to skip the track and go back to the energetic stuff.
Lyrics — 6
When it comes to pop punk, there's a handful of lyrical subject matter that you know you'll run into, and We Are The In Crowd tackles the same few subjects in multiple songs. There's the "anti-emo" subject matter, which you'll find in "Long Live the Kids" and "Don't You Worry," which both do a good job of being feel-good uplifters with sing-a-long choruses. Then there's the "bad romance" subject matter, which you'll find in "Manners," "The Best Thing (That Never Happened)," and "Remember (To Forget You)." While "The Best Thing (That Never Happened)" follows the niche of being the girl-empowering, ditch-your-abusive-boyfriend pop punk song, the mutually somber lyrics that Jardine and Eckes share with one another in the duet of "Manners" is by far the best representative of the "love sucks" subject matter in the album. And, of course, there's the "figuring oneself out" subject matter, which you'll find in "Attention," "Dreaming Out Loud," "Come Back Home," and "Reflections." In this case, "Reflections" has the best lyrics pertaining to the subject matter - such as "I followed the leader/now I just follow myself/destiny is overrated/so I'll just make my own" - which makes the other songs that deal with the similar subject matter feel like lyrical b-sides. And just like how it sticks out musically, "Windows in Heaven" also stands out alone in subject matter, being about Jardine talking to a deceased loved one.
Overall Impression — 6
If "Best Intentions" can be related to Paramore's "Riot!," then "Weird Kids" can be related to Paramore's "Brand New Eyes," not just in terms of chronological order, but in terms of branching out of being a one-trick pony. "Weird Kids" is a small step towards evolution of We Are The In Crowd's artistic capabilities, and it's good to see them already yearning to do that in their second album. The pop punk style that the band is known for still serves as the backbone of the album, but by attempting some new ideas along with it helps them stay fresh, and also helps set the tone for how much further they branch out musically in the next album.