Review Summary: Mayday Parade gave themselves a Lesson In Romantics.
Mayday Parade is been at the forefront of an increasingly overcrowded genre. Like other bands, their lyrics are all about love, loss, and fun. Easily digestible and teen-oriented is the name of the game. Mayday Parade do, and have done this exceedingly well. Crafting some of the genre’s only listenable music is their forte as we have seen since their debut, Tales Told By Dead Friends. Their Opus Magnum, if you will, A Lesson In Romantics was followed by a disappointment of an album in Anywhere But Here. After the leaving of ex singer-songwriter/guitarist Jason Lancaster, and the underwhelming Anywhere But Here release, many, including myself, were skeptical as to whether or not Mayday Parade would return to form. And finally, we have an answer.
Now this is my first review so I’ll keep it simple and do a track-by-track analysis.
1. Oh Well, Oh Well (4/5)
This track has us biting our lips and hoping they won’t open with a ballad when we hear a piano intro accompanied by some strings. Not to fear, the song quickly picks up and carries out in typical Mayday Parade fashion with quick, upbeat verses and soaring, catchy choruses. “Oh Well, Oh Well” is a new fan favorite for sure.
2. No Heroes Allowed (3.5/5)
The weakest track on the album by far. Not by any means bad, but lacking for certain. The verse is slow and tedious throughout most of the song compared to the fast, upbeat chorus. This is a track that would have stood out on “Anywhere But Here” but is the skip track for this album.
3. When You See My Friends (3.75/5)
The second single off of the self-titled album, “When You See My Friends” is another typical Mayday Parade song with many hooks and a chorus you can sing along to. The acoustic outro is actually the best segment of the song with some simple, yet enjoyable finger picking on an acoustic guitar.
4. You’re Dead Wrong (5/5)
One of the best songs on the album and one of the best tracks Mayday Parade have written. You’re Dead Wrong brings back memories and nostalgia of “A Lesson In Romantics” with hopeless lyrics and a melody to make your heart melt. This track exhibits the best chorus on the album with an inspiring vocal performance by Derek Sanders. One of the best moments on the entire album comes when the song breaks structure and Sanders screams “If you think that was easy, you’re wrong” and the song moves into a heartfelt solo by guitarist Alex Garcia. “You’re Dead Wrong” is a definite highlight of the album.
5. Priceless (5/5)
Another track to remember “A Lesson In Romantics” to. Its hard not to imagine Jason Lancaster shouting “you’ll be the reason, I’ll be uneven” as you listen to “Priceless”. It’s typical and structure and sound but if it’s the formula that works for Mayday Parade, why change it?
6. Stay (5/5)
The new “Miserable At Best”, just… better. Just like “Miserable at Best”, “Stay” is another lonely cry about the loss of a loved one. It starts off in “Miserable At Best” fashion with Derek Sanders’ voice and a piano. Instruments are layered in one by one slowly building the song up to an incredibly emotional climax a little more than halfway through. From there, the song does not slow down in any way and continues puling on your heartstrings for the remaining 1:30. “Stay” is the best love ballad Mayday Parade has written to this day.
7. Call Me Hopeless, But Not Romantic (4.5/5)
Dare I say it again, but Call Me Hopeless, But Not Romantic is yet another song that would have fit right in on “A Lesson In Romantics”. It’s truly a Mayday Parade Song at heart, not one part lacking in emotion or catchiness. It is the ability of the band to create songs like this consistently that makes them such a prominent name in the genre.
8. A Shot Across The Bow (5/5)
“A Shot Across The Bow” showcases Mayday Parade’s newly refined sound perfectly. It utilizes hooks in the same style of those that made them famous on their first full length. We also get a good taste of drummer Jake Bundrick’s strikingly good backing vocals, which is quite refreshing after only hearing Derek Sanders for the past 4 years. “A Shot Across The Bow” is a must have off of this album.
9. Everything’s An Illusion (5/5)
A gut-wrenchingly sad song about the loss and one of the best tracks on the album. You get the chills when Sanders yells: “sleep well my friend. There wont be another moment we’ll meet again.” Although sad, it’s refreshing to hear Mayday Parade write a song that’s not about a girl, and they pulled it off perfectly in this dark-sided yet uplifting tune.
10. I’d Rather Make Mistakes Than Nothing At All (4/5)
There is not very much to say about this track other than it is a generally solid and typically structured Mayday Parade song. Not too much to complain about.
11. Without The Bitter The Sweet Wouldn’t Be As Sweet (4/5)
The song begins with an acoustic part with an intriguing melody that keeps the listener from losing attention. About halfway through, the distortion comes in, the strings fade out and the tempo picks up. The rest of the song remains solid and gripping.
12. Happy Endings Are Stories That Haven’t Ended Yet (5/5)
The perfect closer, “Happy Endings” is not only the best track on the album but the best song Mayday Parade has ever written. You almost have to remind yourself that you’re listening to Mayday Parade when listening to this song. It sounds unlike anything else the band has ever written in the entirety of its career. And if you didn’t hear it before, audible bass! Yeah, you heard right, the song begins of slow and pounding, but never tedious. A bridge brings us through a key change into an incredibly beautiful and slow guitar melody. We then hear Sanders sing in the melody of the guitar. Not depressed or lonely, but hopeful. The guitar comes in again under him playing a counter melody to his vocals. Then, the song erupts. Garcia gives us his best guitar solo as a member of Mayday Parade and Derek Sanders’ soaring vocals are truly moving throughout the last choruses. The music cuts out at the end and we are left with nothing but 4 measures of bells and pianos that end this epic perfectly. “Happy Endings” shows incredible songwriting maturity by the band. It builds, it soars, it lands, and you feel different after you listen to it. Job well done, Mayday Parade.
As good if not better than “A Lesson In Romantics”, Mayday Parade has proved that they have moved on without Jason Lancaster, and they’re going to be just fine.