Review Summary: A less fun tribute to the bands debut - nontheless, Farewell impress again with a well crafted album
Farewell have had a slightly crappy career so far. Even when signed to Epitaph, they never quite hit the big time (the highest point of the band was a short tour with the young You Me At Six), as far as sales and exposure are concerned. This could be down to the fact they abandoned the sound they assumed on their debut record, Isn't This Supposed To Be Fun?, and swapped it for a more straight-edge, radio-rock feel that ashamedly loses them some of their credibility in the pop-punk camp.
However, that being said, this is by no means a terrible record. They may have shed the fun-as-hell synths and grooves that wouldn't feel out of place on Green Day's Warning album, but they still know how to write good songs. The first lyric on this record, belonging to the opener We All Fall Down, sets the tone for the majority of the album. "This time we'll set the record straight / Head trips grasping for something to say" - it's almost a statement of intent, to use lyrics and solid musicianship to shine brighter than any other pop-punk diamonds in the rough.
Another highlight on this album is lead single Devoid (That's What I Think About It). An attack on the current rock music scene, accusing it of being 'a ***ing fashion show' instead of being about the music, is as spikey as it is catchy. Drop Dead also shares these hostile tones; a simple song with a premise that's well known in the genre- a personal *** you.
Rock On The Radio and A Collect Call To Arms are both great tracks, with their own identities and fit well in playlists with bands such as blink-182, Sum 41 and other Kerrang! fodder.
Catch As Catch Can is a fun surprise on this album. A song about how the lead singer found his way into the band, "picked up a keyboard and started singing" - the whole song is just one long silly (but catchy) anecdote. On the CD, you'll notice there's 88 tracks. They have taken the liberty of hiding a bonus song, Rob The Knob, behind 70-odd 4 second black tracks. Rob The Knob is a hilarious 2 minute attack on autotuned music, and current chart music in general. A swear fest.
One of the weaker songs, Before I Wake, is Farewell's first real take at a 'ballad'. War, on the previous record was really assumed to be a ballad, but it managed to pick itself a good halfway through the song. Before I Wake is an attempt to be emotionally heartfelt, but it ends up being full of cliched stock lyrics that these sort of songs seem to harbor. Another issue is the quality of songs declines past song 8. It's a shame, because with a little more time, this album could have had a little less filler than it does.
All in all, Run It Up The Flagpole is a solid album, but it seems watered down compared to the bounce (bounce seems to be such a good word to describe the first record) of Isn't This Supposed To Be Fun?. Full of songs that would fit nicely on the radio - it's just a shame the radio will never get a hold of these guys.