Review Summary: For an album with such a sad concept behind it, it's a great listen with a few minor bumps along the way.
Armor for Sleep has always been that band that I knew of, but never really took an opportunity to sit down and listen to. While I knew all their major singles, I never sat down and listened to an album from beginning to end. This all changed when I heard the story behind “What To Do When You Are Dead”, the second album to be released. Right along with their debut, it’s a concept album, a deep one at that. In all honesty, the concept was the only thing that really made me sit down and listen to it, and throughout my many plays of the album I found out exactly what I’ve been missing, and deeply regret not getting into these guys earlier in my life.
“What to Do When You Are Dead” tells the story of a man who kills himself after driving his car into a body of water and drowning. As the album moves forward, he begins to go through the five stage model of grief, including regret expanding all the way to an acceptance of fate. Each song is a step forward, as he watches the people he loved live their life without him underneath, he begins to learn the difference between friends and people he thought were close to him. Death is a touchy subject, it has so many explanations that nobody is exactly sure what occurs after death, but Armor for Sleep expresses their opinions in a real sense.
One of the biggest problems with this album as a whole is the similarity of each song, while they can be told apart, as you near the albums end it all ends of sounding like one giant song. This makes the album kind of tough to get through after your first few listens, the major singles off the album all show up at the beginning. I find myself singing along to opening tracks like ‘Truth About Heaven’ and ‘Remember to Feel Real’, but find myself less interested towards the end. Another thing that kind of throws me off is the bands genre, while many call them pop-punk, I feel most of the album has a more alternative feel.
The song ‘Truth About Heaven’ are one of the very few songs I’d consider pop-punk, it features an extremely catchy chorus and just feels like more of a poppy track than the rest. Once the album passes the midway point with ‘A Quick Little Flight’, the album takes over a darker feel. Songs like ‘Basement Ghost Singing’ and ‘I Have Been Right All Along’ are great tracks to listen to, but they have no real hook to them. To call them bland may be harsh, but they just don’t grab my attention like most of the other tracks do. One of the things that carries this album is structure and concept, the instrumentals are mostly simple and vocalist Ben Jorgenson does a great job throughout the entire album.
“What to Do When You Are Dead” has really got me thinking about the whole death thing, I know that this is just a simple idea revolving around what most would think they would feel after death. In a way though, this is an album that capture it’s story within it’s sound, and with the few complaints I have, this is an album that I won’t stop listening too any time soon. It really is a shame that the band turned into a label group and eventually split apart after this album, but looking back at what they’ve created with this album, it shows pure writing talent.