Review Summary: Sounding two and a half years stronger than last time
It must really suck to be Set Your Goals right now. Why, you ask? Because a middle of the road group is now a threat to that California band’s status of Warp Tour headlining/critical appeasement, king-of-the-hill-dom. It’s true; the statement made by Scott Heisel in Alternative Press
last year – the title of the opening cut to Enemy of the World
– was indeed factual at the time, considering Four Year Strong's and Set Your Goals' activities in the summer of ‘09 when that magazine was published: the latter group was releasing their ticket to the big times with the ironically titled This Will Be The Death Of Us
– even Hayley Williams was all over that album, mind you – whereas the prior band were behind the times (literally), releasing a sub-par 90s covers album, Explains It All
, that made fans and critics alike scoff and shake their heads. Four Year Strong were obviously tired from two years of continuous touring, tried their luck at the easy way out, but were then instead chided for their failings.
Leave it to producer ‘The Machine’ to beat Four Year Strong back into shape. Indeed, the renowned producer’s work is one of the reasons why Enemy of the World
soars to unexpected heights in 2010. Distorted guitars sound as if reinforced by shotgun fire and volcanic explosions – it’s the closest to metal
that hardcore/pop-punk has ever come – and the vocal melodies, especially those fist-in-the-air gang vocals, emit in authentic-like, front-of-the-concert fashion, further strengthening the hooks thrice-fold. This is not like the band’s sophomore release, Rise Or Die Trying
, where the record flows through its course as if uninterrupted, moments synching with too much
ease, quickly being forgotten within seconds of their arrival. No, Enemy of the World
makes every effort to define itself in a league of very routine and same-y albums. It demands your attention, and once through, you’ll be more than willing to give it back to the album again and again.
Leading up to Enemy of the World
’s release, vocalist and guitarist Dan O’Connor stated that “on this record, we concentrated on having like one cohesive song from start to finish that really sounded like it belonged together.
” From the sound of it, Four Year Strong’s efforts were not in vain, as Enemy of the World
is a very consistent album; tracks like the aforementioned opener and the “Oh, Oh, Oh
”-filled title track are summer anthems originally released on the eve of spring, both bookending an album with succulently catchy tunes piled on top of each other in the middle. Lyrically, though, the band choose to stay with the standard issues of women (“The Body Pays The Bill$” and “Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride”) and that 'us against the world
' battle position (“Flannel Is The Color Of My Energy” and “Enemy Of The World”). This tends to limit Four Year Strong’s target audience, to be honest, but at the same time, however, it does seem to fittingly capture the angst of youth. It can be trite and/or trying at times, but the mood Four Year Strong invoke make the subjects seem fitting in context of the music.
I’d go ahead and just rename this album Enemy of Genre-Aping Boredom
, as what’s presented here is fresh and really just plain exciting
. This isn’t another dime-of-the-dozen, modern Lifetime-fix, yet at the same time, this isn’t exactly revolutionary either. Enemy of The World
is just all the qualities of the hardcore/pop-punk sub-genre expanded upon and made bombastic: gang vocals, catchy choruses, pop-punk riffs, and a youthful context. It makes recent offerings by Veara and The Wonder Years seem pigeonholed in those dreadful sub-genre stereotypes by comparison, and, yes, it even gives Set Your Goals' most recent a run for its money. Four Year Strong now two and a half years stronger – they may have an enemy in the world, but they won't find very much opposition from this reviewer.