Review Summary: A strange feat, but FYS has created an amazing cover album, surprisingly.
When Four Year Strong had first announced on Myspace, that their second full length album release would be a complete cover album, I had mixed feelings about what the band could do with something like this. It's the first time I've ever seen a band make a cd completely full of cover songs. Then they went to announce that the reason they're doing this is to give thanks to all the artists and songs that inspired FYS to make music. This is what "Explains it All" is all about. All of the bands covered on this album should praise FYS for taking the time to write no original music and completely redo a handful of songs we all know and remember from the 90's. Is it good though?
The answer is yes. Four Year Strong has successfully created a fast-paced, fun and catchy album full of cover songs. Every song they chose to do is well known, mainly for teens like me who grew up in the 90's. It ranges from older poppier songs to a harder alternative time of music which came later in the 90's. Every song is slightly changed in pace and tone, but the same old beats are recognizable and they still keep that same feel you get when you listen to the original songs. The album starts off with 'So Much For the Afterglow', the one song off the album I don't recognize. Either way, it's a great way to start this album. Just under 3 minutes long, it reunites us with that FYS sound to show us that the band isnt going to mainstream and changing it up under the feet of hardcore FYS fans.
This leads right away into the first single off the album, "Absoulutely (Story of A Girl)", which was released weeks on Myspace before the album was released. Originally done by Nine Days, FYS takes the speed and cranks it up a bit. The guitar stays the same as the original and the drums are a little tweaked to help with the change of pace. The part that shines though are the vocals, which are extremely well done in the song. Almost everybody in the band sings, so as our vocalist switch back and forth between sections, we still get that same old FYS sound we all love. Going from the fast paced beats of 'Absoulutely' to the acoustic opening of 'Ironic' was quite an awkward switch. It's also weird to hear this song covered on a FYS album, originally sang by Alanis Morissette, the song explains how strange and ironic life really is. The band keeps the acoustic opening but extremely speeds it up for the rest of the song. I enjoy this song though, it feels classy and real, something a good cover should do.
Yet again the vocals shine here, but mainly in the softer sections. Theres not as much as a scream-sing in acoustic areas, but the softness of Alan Days's voice makes those sections nice to hear. Originally played by The Smashing Pumpkinds, 'Bullets With Butterfly Wings' is my least favorite track of the album. The sound just doesnt fit with the bands vocals at all. Alot of the tones are out of place and it's the one song FYS shouldnt have covered by SMP, they wouldve been better off with something better by them. 'Semi Charmed Life' is probably my favorite off the album, originally played by Third Eye Blind, the song is noticed for it's raw and raunchy lyrics which were never to noticed at the time in 1997 when the original song was relesed. FYS does an amazing job here, it's a very poppy and entertaining song which Four Year Strong nailed in everyway possible.
'Spiderwebs', from No Doubt is yet another fun and catchy cover, but one of the elements that surely shine here is the ending, which featues a 30 second breakdown that would make any hardcore fan move their feet. I've been waiting for FYS to add that breakdown element into this album and with this song it shows they havent lost their touch. Their is a little more guitar added then in the original but the vocal transition was good, a great cover. Del Amitri created 'Roll To Me' to be a very feel good song, and now FYS has taken it, done their changes and now, over 10 years from the original release, has kept that same feel good sound of the song. Both 'Fly' (originally done by Sugar Ray) and 'In Bloom' (originally by Nirvana) are two of the most unchanged songs from the album. Though 'Fly' is fun and full of moveable beats, 'In Bloom' is boring and feels like a very uninspired cover. Though I love this song, nothing was changed, it's exactly the way it sounded back in the 90's.
'She Really Loved You' and 'She's so High' are great songs to end this album, 'She's so High' is softer and puts the listener into a finishing stage, where they smile and just feel good. Overall, Four Year Strong has released an amazing cover album, though I wouldve loved to hear some original music by them, they still do a good job with these well known 90's tracks and this album can almost never get boring, which is certainly a good thing.