Review Summary: Sadly, this album's generic title is the best thing it has going for it.5 of 6 thought this review was well written
As a fan of music in general, I can say firmly that my biggest problem in terms of enjoying music is my patience. Some of my favorite CDs are ones that I initially didn’t care for, simply because I didn’t give myself enough time to absorb their intricacies. So it’s a rare, joyous occasion when I can listen to a CD, and within the first 30 seconds tell that it’s outright ***. Such is the case with Lonely Road
, the sophomore release by alternative rockers The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
. Their 2006 release, Don’t You Fake It
, was a bad, but not abysmal, slice of generic pop-punk marketed at 14-year old girls. Apparently, its success was enough to make them believe they actually have any musical cred, because Lonely Road comes off like the sort of bloated stadium rock/pop that Tom Delonge would heartily approve. For the rest of us, we’ll just stand by the sidelines holding our ears.
Lead single “You Better Pray” is a bizarre way to lead off such a poppy album, as it is essentially a bastardized version of a ***ty Guns ‘n Roses song. The first tell-tale sign of trouble in the opening guitar solo. It’s out of place, has no musical value, and basically feels like the band yelling “Hey, we learned how to play the guitar since our last CD!” But even it can’t compete with the intro’s climax, in which vocalist Ronnie begins building up to the verse with a series of “Ohhh..”s, and then releases a high note that feels so out of place and ridiculous that it may very well be an early qualifier for Worst Moment in Music for 2009.
Sadly enough, “You Better Pray” ends up being one of the better songs on the album. Every other song on the album falls into one of two categories: imitations of classic rock/punk staples (Pull Me Back, Senioritis, Step Right Up), and imitations of Angels and Airwaves (pretty much every other song). “Pen and Paper” and “Pleads and Postcards”, besides their strikingly similar song titles, are practically the same bad A&A cover, throwing away any subtlety the band still had. The worst of these offenders is “Represent”, in which Ronnie literally steals Delonge’s intonation and tone verbatim. The song’s bland verses are matched by the abundance of strings during the chorus, leading to a climax that practically uses an orchestra to hammer the listener over the head with the song’s message.
And there-in lies the album’s true fault: RJA haven’t evolved as songwriters at all. Instead, they’ve simply masked their lack of evolution with their bland attempts at flair. On the album’s rockier songs, that means throwing in scant amounts of guitar twiddling, and on their poppier numbers, it means hiring violins to make them seem “epic”. Behind all the gloss and sheen of the excellent production values, it’s still just four guys playing decidedly average three-chord rock music. This is most obvious on “Lonely Road”, the album’s overblown titular track. Beginning as a basic southern-inspired acoustic ballad, the band just keep adding more and more post-production nonsense to the song in an attempt to keep it interesting. It continues to build and build, until finally exploding into a climactic chorus, complete with a goddamned gospel choir. It’s so unbearably cheesy and clichéd, you expect Ronnie to belt out “In the ciiiiircle! The circle of liiiiiiiiffe!” at any moment.
In nearly every imaginable aspect, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
completely overdo every single song on Lonely Road
to the point that it becomes maddening. I could continue to talk about how “Godspeed” essentially sounds like every clichéd slow march song ever written, or how “Pull Me Back” is an ever more bastardized version of “You Better Pray”, but at this point, I think the point is pretty clear. Don’t buy this CD. At all.