Band – Four Year Strong
Album – In Some Way Shape Or Form
Label – Universal republic
It must really, really suck to be Four Year Strong right now. How do you follow up an album like ‘Enemy of the World’? It is an unenviable task because that album is a classic. Pop punk perfection. The pressure is on for Four Year Strong to deliver big as they’ve already set the bar so high for themselves.
I knew there was gonna be a different direction to ‘In some way, shape, or form’, having read in interviews that they wanted to make a straight up ROCK album. They had also parted ways with keyboard player, Josh Lyford, as they no longer had room for a synth sound in the songs they were writing. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this album sounds so different. It shouldn’t, but it does.
The thing Four Year Strong always had in their favour was the fact that they knew how to write a good song. Fun, catchy as hell, fist pumping anthems. You can change sounds, directions and styles as a band but that can’t stop the fact you know how to rustle up a few hooks and killer melodies. Yet this album feels so bland. That is the surpise.
It takes getting to the third song to find something that vaguely reminds you of their talent for a tune, lead single ‘Stuck in the middle’ is probably the song that is most like previous output. But, even then, it probably wouldn’t have made it on to the last album ‘Enemy of the world’. At least the song is a bit of fun, something that is missing from the rest of the 12 songs that make up the record.
You used to be able to count on the fact that putting on a Four Year Strong album would get you in a good mood, both ‘Rise or die trying’ and ‘Enemy of the world’ could be used as a pick me up. But this is just depressing. Maybe it’s just the fact that i’m dissapointed, maybe the album is a grower. Although I have put off writing this review for over a week just so I could give it a fair chance. But each listen lead me to the same conclusion.
There just feels that there is no need for them to take this direction. They were an incredible pop punk band, but now a mediocre rock band. You are better off sticking on an old Foo Fighters record or listening to Biffy Clyro because they do it better. There are moments in the album that are best left forgotten. First song ‘The Infected’ has a breakdown moment towards the end that made me think “I wonder what happened to Dog Eat Dog??”. The start of ‘Heaven wasn’t built to hold me’ sounds so much like Paramore that it’s a shock not to hear Hayley Williams singing where the vocals come in. And the piano led closing song, ‘Only the meek get pinched, the bold survive’ is verging on Elton John territory. I didn’t sign up for this, hence the disappointment.
At least the album is recorded well, for a band taking on a more ROCK direction they’ve certainly achieved that in how the album sounds. The sound is big and thick, it blasts out of your speakers and as always Four Year Strong play fast and tight as a unit. If only they had backed this up with some good songs.
A few posts ago, I asked how many times can you forgive a band? The conclusion I came to was that you can forgive a bad album but not a second one. So that’s strike one. You get one more chance, Four Year Strong. I sincerley hope you take it. As always, though, your beards are awesome.
I am probably being a bit harsh. Let me know what you think about the new album. Cheers x
Click here to see the video for ‘Just drive’ from the album.