Four Year Strong
In Some Way, Shape, or Form.


2.5
average

Review

by Dakota West Foss USER (15 Reviews)
November 4th, 2011 | 70 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Four Year Strong are stuck in the middle.

It must really suck to be Four Year Strong right now. A year ago, hordes of fans cried this out ironically as they rallied around FYS' landmark LP, Enemy of the World. While there wasn’t anything particularly unique about Enemy of the World, it did just about everything right: awesome hooks, fun riffage, tasteful breakdowns, and they never took themselves too seriously. The end result was a string of awesome, feel-good summer jams like ‘Wasting Time’ or ‘On A Saturday’ or even the anthemic title track. I’d be lying to say that it wasn’t one of, if not the, definitive summer album of 2010.

Fast forward a year later, and the fans are no longer joking.

As soon as the band released the first song from their latest LP, In Some Way, Shape or Form, the general reaction was ‘what?’ And it’s easy to see why: gone were the anthemic choruses and breakdowns, not to mention the addition of an uncanny resemblance to the Foo Fighters which prompted fans to prematurely declare the album ‘Foo Year Strong.’ Lead single ‘Just Drive’ didn’t exactly help things out either. It’s actually a pretty alright song and has a decent hook, but lead single material? Hardly. The slow paced song is more akin to a third or fourth single, as a record label starts to ween off promoting an album.

While I would hardly call Four Year Strong sellouts as many have expressed, it would be just plain wrong to say that this album is on par with their past work. As mentioned, ‘Stuck in the Middle’ IS a Foo Fighters song. It’s a pretty decent track, but it’s not Four Year Strong. Gone are the energetic beardos and in is a band that is grasping at straws for hooks with mass appeal and compromise. The Foo Fighters comparison was perhaps a bit overstated, but the album turns out to be a watered down version of Four Year Strong all the same.

The album just reeks with half-hearted attempts to appeal to as many people as possible. ‘Stuck in the Middle’ will get new fans from the radio, ‘Fairweather Fan’ is an awful attempt to retain their fanbase (including the incredibly predictable gang shout of ‘RISE OR DIE TRYING’), and some sort of masochist will probably dig the questionable Queen-esque intro on closer ‘Only the Meek Get Pinched.’ While their former blend of pop-punk wasn’t the most creative thing in the world, nothing has ever been this obvious. Every song follows the same verse-chorus-verse structure, complete with an ending chorus where the instruments dropping out. The riffs, the pauses, the hooks, everything is just super predictable.

And yet, it’s not awful. Though the album struggles to find its identity between pop-punk and radio rock, there are still a few diamonds in the rough: ‘Stuck in the Middle’ is good, so is ‘Just Drive’, ‘Unbreakable’ is pleasant, and ‘Bring On The World’ is a pretty decent track. The album would be decent if it wasn't dragged down by downright embarrassing songs like ‘Sweet Kerosene’, ‘Heaven Wasn’t Build To Hold Me,’ and the aforementioned, ‘Only The Meek Get Pinched.’ Seriously, that piano intro and hook...ugh. The rest of the songs are merely inoffensive pop-punk tinged radio rock. It's that reluctance to have a definite personality that really brings the album down.

All told, In Some Way Shape or Form is decent. It’s not terrible, but it’s not great either and that is probably the worst kind of album, especially from a band as capable as Four Year Strong. Here’s to hoping that this album is nothing but a stepping stone to more defined sound: whether that be catchy, but palatable radio-rock or the former energetic anthems that put them on the map. Until then, though, Four Year Strong are truly stuck in the middle.



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user ratings (262)
Chart.
2.7
average
other reviews of this album
Marshall Clifton (2)
I'll give you five years strong....

Tim Dodderidge (3)
A change for the better? Yes and no....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Odal
November 4th 2011


350 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Comments/criticisms/suggestions are welcome!

NateT
November 4th 2011


185 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Well written, pos
haven't listened yet, but I liked the singles

Sanders
November 4th 2011


2361 Comments


"The album would be decent if it was dragged down by downright embarrassing songs"

I assume you meant to say wasn't? I agree with this rating at the moment, this album isn't clicking with me. It's nothing hugely offensive, but it's just not as catchy as their previous stuff...Fingers crossed it grows on me.

Odal
November 4th 2011


350 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

^ Yeah haha oops. Thanks for pointing that out! 'Just Drive' was a huge grower for me but pretty much everything else is...meh

Crymsonblaze
November 4th 2011


7536 Comments


Sucks that this isn't any good. I'll probably give it a listen because I really liked Enemy of the World.

Pos'd

Pharoh
November 4th 2011


3326 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

They suck now.

mhp2
November 4th 2011


2 Comments


I'm listening to it now. not too impressed by it. good review. "stuck in the middle" and "falling on you" are the only songs that i would want to listen to again at this point. to me on first listen the songs sound a lot like each other. I'm guessing there are gonna be a lot of "good thing josh got out when he did statements.

Axel
November 5th 2011


189 Comments


Sounds like an album full of A Day to Remember clean-vocal songs.

except better

I'm not hearing that much of a Foo Fighters influence though

auberginedreams
November 5th 2011


6075 Comments


pos'd. i agree with your review, this definitely sounds like a watered down four year strong. i was never their biggest fan in the first place, but i enjoyed the catchy hooks and breakdowns. now that they've stripped out any hardcore influence and even traded in much of the pop-punk for generic radio-rock, i really don't see what the appeal of this band is anymore.

Digging: DIR EN GREY - Arche

Odal
November 5th 2011


350 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

The only Foo song is Stuck in the Middle. The rest is weak FYS for the most part. Thanks for the feedback!

NateT
November 5th 2011


185 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Not sure what everyone is bitching about, I thought the album was solid, a definite step down from EOTW, but still good

DurzoBlint
November 5th 2011


1195 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

"a definite step down from EOTW, but still good"

>_> not gonna bother with it then

Spec
November 5th 2011


27297 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'll probably listen to this out of curiosity.

Prag
November 5th 2011


64 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

God, I like Fairweather Fan. I don't know why. I was optimistic at first, with Stuck in the Middle and even Just Drive coming out, but the whole album just killed it. It's just so...boring. I don't care for like half the songs, and the one's I do care about are mediocre FYS. Set Your Goals, now this. It's the year of disappointing pop-punk fans.

Except Surburbia. That was awesome.

Odal
November 5th 2011


350 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah, Suburbia is definitely pop-punk album of the year as far as I'm concerned. And Four Year Strong's brand of 'breakdown' pop-punk wasn't tasteless or anything like A Day to Remember. In fact without them, as evidenced on this album, they lose a lot of their spunk and energy. Not saying that they can't make great music without 'em, they just didn't do it on here.

Prag
November 6th 2011


64 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

I agree with Odal. Fys' style of breakdown pop punk was not over the top. It was modest but badass at the same time. I would've liked to see them become less breakdown-dependent, but I think they just over did it a little.

Pharoh
November 6th 2011


3326 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

They badly had any breakdowns, what are you talking about?

iFghtffyrdmns
November 6th 2011


7047 Comments


decent review, watch out with the overly-conversational lines, they take away from your otherwise good writing.

also, a minor thing but still worth fixing:
there’s a few diamonds
-should be "there are a few diamonds"

nice review though, have a pos. i can't say I give two shits about fys

Odal
November 6th 2011


350 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Fixed. Thanks for pointing that out. It's stuff like that that really benefits from having a second pair of eyes, you know?

HaloDude442
November 6th 2011


694 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review. I think this album is being slightly underrated so far, but i can see and respect people would rate it lower



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