Review Summary: Ten years. Feel old?
I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the band, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus for making music for ten years now. Any band making music with any sized fan base for an extended amount of time like that, must be applauded.
That being said, when you talk about all the pop radio crossover hits from the broad genre of alternative music in the mid 2000's, no band has fallen harder into total obscurity then The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. The glory days of Don't You Fake It
, which produced their biggest hits "Face Down" and "Your Guardian Angel", are long behind them. Ever since then, failed efforts to please their fans and retain their previous successes such as the horrendous sophomore record The Lonely Road
, or even the slight recovery of Am I The Enemy?
, have launched the Florida group into forgotten territory among fans and critics.
Et Tu, Brute?
is a bench mark for the group. Et Tu, Brute?
is an extended play of six new tracks to celebrate ten years of The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Unfortunately, this seems to be misguided right from the beginning, because vocalist Ronnie Winter is the only remaining member from the 2003 cast of the band. On this EP from beginning to end, the group just keeps up what they do best. Crafting easy pop punk jams targeted at teenagers. However, with lyricist and vocalist Ronnie Winter's lyrics and over ambition of trying to take his band back to success ultimately still fails him. And he brings his group down with him.
The only thing that has kept The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus alive for so long, at least for this writer, is the abundance of hooks to be found. It's something easy to sing in the car with friends who are surprised they're still making music. With Et Tu, Brute?
though, they repeat the same cliches we have heard from the group before. "You Can't Trust Anyone These Days" is not only a direct rip off of "Choke" off prior record Am I The Enemy?
, but is just executed awfully. Ronnie's screams have only have seemed to have gotten worse over the years. His dramatic vocal delivery of over emphasizing consonants on his clean vocals has become nearly laughable. Take "Wide Is The Gate" for example, every word has either an "uhhh" or an "errrr" at the end of it. It has become evident (like it wasn't already) that Ronnie is trying way too hard. Lead guitarist Josh Burke begins third track "Cards" with a lot of promise containing a strong guitar riff, that is until an over bearing synthesizer hook, combined with Ronnie's proclaiming wails of freedom, send this track down a couple notches.
Overshadowed by Ronnie Winter's butchering vocals is that the rest of the band is progressing rather nicely. "Remember Me" is the most masterfully executed out of all the six tracks. The work also has a pretty solid rhythmic hook with progressing guitars, and a steady drum beat. It feels puzzling to want to nod your head during an RJA song, but "Remember Me" does that.
When the group closes with slower track "Chariot", it seems the only time the group performs well as a whole is when they take it slow. "Chariot" also shows potential signs of growth for the group with more mature sounding lyrics, a simple acoustic guitar notation, and even a presence of strings.
All in all, this is nothing new for The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. However when you release an anniversary release like Et Tu, Brute?
you want to be able to celebrate something. After listening to this, you find that there is nothing to celebrate. Watching the rise, and stark declination of The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus has been one of the most sad things that a fan, and even a former fan could watch. However at the end of the day, it's not like the group, specifically Ronnie Winter, is doing anything about it.
Happy Ten Years.