Review Summary: Aiden clean up, and don't sound nearly as bad as they used to. Still, far from good. Nightmare Anatomy
is a horrible album. Let’s just get that out the way. wiL Francis (trust me, that’s the last time I wiLL type his name like that), Aiden’s singer, performed about as badly as humanly possible on that album. His voice sounds horrible, in the worst possible way, and it doesn’t help that he was singing horrible lyrics about repetitive, generic subjects (the word nightmare just may be used in every single song). Someone close to the band (Victory records exec, personal friend or maybe even band member, I don’t know) must have realized this and told the band, because there is something different about Conviction
. It doesn’t suck.
Probably the worst thing about Conviction is how delusional Aiden and their fans will surely get about it. There is nothing revolutionary about Conviction, it isn’t very original and it certainly is no album of the year. Instead, Conviction is a highly bearable, catchy, pop-punk release that sounds a whole lot like My Chemical Romance, The Used, etc. While an album being derivative of another is never really a good thing, when considering the fact that this album could have been Nightmare Anatomy part two, ripping off one of the most enjoyable albums from the current crop of pop punk is forgivable.
From the get-go, it is apparent that Francis has been working on his voice. The Opening Departure
is a somber, piano “ballad”. Francis works an impressive range overtop roomy piano chords. The production on Conviction is eternally better than on Anatomy, where a quiet section like this would be terribly low compared to the heavier sections. Indeed, with Conviction, Aiden lose whatever D.I.Y. values their Victory debut retained. Everything about this album is much more polished, something like the affected, new wave guitar of She Will Love You
would have had no place in Aiden’s previous works. Furthermore, She Will Love You sees Aiden ditching their rather unlistenable screaming for much more pop-friendly harmonies. If Victory were looking for a band to fill in Hawthorne Heights’ now vacant spot as Victory’s link to MTV, they may have found it with Aiden.
And Victory is betting on One Love
to get Aiden to the mainstream, giving it an extremely colorful video and everything. It isn’t a bad choice for a single, catchy and upbeat but still dark enough for Aiden’s fans not to feel betrayed by their heroes. The chorus finds Francis singing “one love, in you're eyes now, look afraid/beyond human aid”
, in a section of music that sounds like The Used playing a very faithful cover of a bad Cure song. Throughout, most of Conviction, Aiden pay debt to the 80’s new wave scene, completely forgetting about the suffix –core. Reverberated piano, affected guitar arpeggios and two-handed, sixteenth note high-hat patterns are the new norm in Aiden’s camp.
The lyrics are still lame, unfortunately (maybe not, actually, as the lyrics were surely the most entertaining part of Nightmare Anatomy). “Lying face down in the gutter, now so damn proud/I know, I know, I know, it’s my fault”
Francis starts the heartfelt, keyboard (piano in the verses, synthesizer in the chorus) heavy Believe
in his best Bret McCracken whine. “In a world where we all just waste away, in a place we cry for today/believe, believe, believe”
, he continues; the rest of the song is much of the same: Aiden’s attempt at meaningful and heartfelt coming off more as corny and trite. The gang vocals (found on the previous track, Son of Lies
, as well) don’t really help matters, though I imagine they may be fun live. “And these walls are painted red, she put a bullet in her head, goodbye goodbye, goodbye, is all she said”
Francis sings over a mellower section of the next song, Bliss
. The unoriginality and cheesiness of those lyrics sort of speak for themselves.
So Aiden have changed. Their sound is more bearable, but still not good. And they still are far from original. But something about Conviction doesn’t seem right. At least on Nightmare Anatomy
, the band seemed earnest, like they were really into their music. On Conviction, things are a bit overproduced, over the top and unnatural. Maybe this just goes along with the change in sound, I don’t know. It just doesn’t really sound like Aiden have the same passion, playing bastardized new wave on Conviction as they did when they were screaming about nightmares on Anatomy. Whatever, to sum things up for Metacritic or whoever, Aiden have ditched some of the aspects that made them bad on Nightmare Anatomy, but are still a long way from good. Let’s just hope, for the sake of Aiden, the kids who were genuinely into old Aiden still like it.