Review Summary: At the end of the day, Sick and Twisted Affair is so frustrating because My Darkest Days have shown they can write a quality tune, but have only chosen to do so 50% of the time.
It’s time to disregard all fears and premonitions of what people will think of me and just come out and say it; I love my mainstream rock. Although my inner metal-head discourages me, I’ve always found something particularly enthralling about the genre for as long as I can remember. Go ahead and pull me any song from the top of the rock charts; if it has a nice, hooky riff, a good vocalist, and an infectious chorus, then there’s a good chance I’ll be as happy as a pig in ***. With that said, this album frustrates me. Unfortunately, what we have here is an all-too-familiar musical scenario; a band with a great amount of potential that flashes brilliance, then proceeds to disappoint and wallow in mediocrity. There are some great moments on this record; several of the songs on this album deliver the aforementioned qualities of a great rock tune in spades. However, with Sick and Twisted Affair, My Darkest Days simply fail to provide and album that is both consistent and engaging.
My Darkest Days’ 2010 self-titled debut was, if nothing else, a solid modern rock record; the album’s 10 tracks were all at least decent, with no noticeable bumps or downturns along the way. Despite this, in its best moments, Sick and Twisted Affair absolutely surpasses its predecessor. For example, the opening one-two punch of the title track and “Save Yourself” is nothing short of superb; both tracks have killer riffs, excellent musicianship on every front, and choruses crafted by the gods themselves. Similarly, “Nature of the Beast” and “Again” provide a great deal of heavy, stomping grooves and beefy axe bite that is enough to keep even the most fickle of hard rock meatheads satisfied, with “Again” boasting a fantastic and much-needed guitar solo in its bridge. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the subtler “Perfect” takes a small step back to deliver a meticulously crafted pop rock gem with a chorus catchier than an Adele single.
Unfortunately, I now must refrain from further praise and dig down into exactly what makes this record so underwhelming. While the band shows that they have the chops to write a truly great rock tune, they disappoint just as often as they succeed. “Casual Sex”, the album’s first single, is a raunchy and all sexed up half-rock/half-pop tune ala Nickelback
. Unfortunately, the pretentious and downright silly lyrics are only further dragged down by the overuse of synths and turntables, and as a result, the song falls flat on its face. I can understand they were reaching for an audience besides rock fans here, but to be blatant, the song just sucks. In addition, the band’s cover of JOE and Mystikal’s “Stutter” remains largely unremarkable and fails to impress where their 2010 cover of Duran Duran’s “Come Undone” succeeded, and as if this weren’t bad enough, closing tracks “Love Crime” and “Rolling Stoned” are absolute garbage. Both seem like rehashed and sleep-inducing versions of what the band succeeded at earlier on the album, and to top it off, the production on both seems very, very off; on “Love Crime”, the bass drum is barely audible at all, and the electronics seem to be placed way, way too high into the mix.
Overall, I really can only recommend half of this album, and from a band with such a solid debut, that’s disappointing. This record has a handful of great quality tunes; but unfortunately, offers an additional handful of songs that have been in and out of the crapper. At the end of the day, Sick and Twisted Affair is so frustrating because My Darkest Days have shown they can write a quality tune, but have only chosen to do so 50% of the time. The word is overused, but in this case, seems all too appropriate; this record is disappointing.