Four Year Strong
Rise Or Die Trying



by Dave de Sylvia EMERITUS
September 21st, 2007 | 77 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Self-styled 'happy hardcore' upstarts aim for the jugular but wind up choking themselves.

The pop punk scene’s worst kept secret for well over a year now, Four Year Strong's retrofit take on the now mega-successful and mega-formulaic Decaydance Records sound probably won’t be compared too often with “extreme” power metallers DragonForce- and why would it? on the surface the bands are nothing alike- but the pair’s working ethos are very similar: they take the generic genre blueprint, in this case roughly encompassed by Fall Out Boy, and take it to the extreme. If the aforementioned bands represent modern hardcore tailored to fit the Blink/New Found Glory pop punk model, then Four Year Strong have wrung the hardcore/thrash influence for all its worth, punctuating their songs with metalcore breakdowns, dynamic interplay between clean and screamed vocals, and (relatively unique to the genre) a drummer whose penchant for double-kick extravagance could actually earn him a gig with DragonForce: in short, Four Year Strong are extreme popcore.

The band have their own, slightly more sympathetic, name for it. Describing their sound as “happy hardcore,” Four Year Strong’s message is clear: they’re here to take over the world, but most of all they’re here to have fun. Similar in sentiment to Fall Out Boy’s own “we’ve arrived” statement, ‘Thriller,’ ‘The Takeover’ kicks the album off with the confidence of kings, fading in with church bells and air raid sirens before gang vocals announce, “start the takeover/this is your last warning/our time has come and we’re going straight on ‘til morning.” Musically, it’s more reminiscent of AFI’s intro piece ‘Miseria Cantare’; but from there such lightweight influences are generally eliminated, emerging only sparingly, for the sunny Sherwood-like melodies of should-be single ‘Catastrophe’ and the synth-led pop intros (a la Motion City Soundtrack) of ‘Prepare To Be Digitally Manipulated’ and ‘Abandon Ship Or Abandon All Hope.’

Sound-wise, Four Year Strong are just as extravagant. Like the majority of their genre companions, their production style is unashamedly slick and polished, but also brutally overbearing. Layers and layers of sound are slapped on like a clown would apply face paint; even highlights like ‘Prepare To Be Digitally Manipulated’ are kitchen sink affairs, with multiple harmonised guitar tracks winding between synths, drums and two interlocking vocal tracks, each tuned and multi-tracked beyond all reason. The singers both sound impressive, but it’s difficult to conclude that the heavy-handed approach to the vocal tracking is anything but a crutch to compensate for poor technique, and like a lot of other aspects of the band’s sound, the effect wears off far too quickly. Once again, the lesson is clear: other bands did it first, and other bands do it better.

The constant namedropping is unfortunate but unavoidable: Four Year Strong’s influences are obvious and easy to pick out, perhaps even intentionally so, as little effort seems to have been made to distinguish many features from their parent company: Dan O’Connor’s vocals frequently recall Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump and Panic! At The Disco’s Brendan Urie- mainly the latter, since he doesn’t quite possess Stump’s range and technique- and the winding, conversational chorus lines of ‘Bada Bing Wit’ A Pipe’ and ‘Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die’ are particularly reminiscent of Urie’s style. The tracks mentioned thus far are the clear highlights of the album. The quality of the album’s eleven songs doesn’t vary dramatically, but neither does the content: those mentioned just happen to be more well-written and, perhaps just as crucially, are mostly packed to the front. The album as a whole doesn’t flow well; the tracks are so similar that the smart listener would simply disregard the second half and play the first half twice for a much better experience.

Recent reviews by this author
And So I Watch You From Afar GangsAll Time Low Dirty Work
Linkin Park A Thousand SunsAdebisi Shank This is the Second Album
AFI Crash Lovefun. Aim and Ignite
user ratings (911)
other reviews of this album
joshieboy (4)
Fun, Catchy, and incredibly enjoyable. The way Pop-Punk is supposed to be....

Comments:Add a Comment 
September 22nd 2007


Decaydance Records signs hardcore bands? Since when?

Album was solid pop punk.

September 22nd 2007


Awesome review. This sounds like an overdone genre exercise.

September 22nd 2007


I've seen that summary before, on you're 'Lead Sails' review...
Still, awesome review, as always.

September 24th 2007


Album Rating: 2.5

Aren't these guys on I Surrender Records?

September 24th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

Agreed with Iai. This is pretty average so far.

September 25th 2007


Wrecked him? is soooooooooooo good

I'm really digging this cd right now

September 27th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

I thought the band was intresting. They reminded me of Fall Out Boy, but with breakdowns.

Nice review.

October 2nd 2007


Album Rating: 2.0

This is straight up pop-punk tring to be more than what it is. Happy hardcore my ass...

November 4th 2007


Album Rating: 2.5

What I've heard off of this is lol funny at some parts just because of how ridiculous the extremes are. But I can imagine them being pretty fun live.

November 15th 2007


Album Rating: 2.0

My roommates love this band and I can't stand them.

December 6th 2007


I have to say that I have never heard a band quite like this, but I actually like them.

February 24th 2008


Album Rating: 3.5

I really like this album. I also like that they gave it to me for free. I find the breakdowns to be quite sick, myself. But whatever floats your boat, i guess.

March 3rd 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

It's weird. I read your review and it makes a lot of sense to me.

And at the same time, this CD has gotten a LOT of playtime for me. It's semi-infectious and I'm okay with that.

April 28th 2008


Album Rating: 3.0

I listen to a few tracks (mainly track #7) as a breather from the heavier music I listen to, and reminds me of my pop-punk days.

June 3rd 2008


I have trouble getting into them when i listen to it, but they're pretty epic live tbh but there is also like a hundred IDENTICAL bands like them in the UK atm. This Message Edited On 06.03.08

June 25th 2008


Album Rating: 3.0

This is a perfectly decent album, from a perfectly decent band. Take it for what it is and you will enjoy it. Good fun music. Wouldnt go to a gig through, probably full of scene brats.

I prefer the term pop-core perhaps, happy hardcore is the fair-ground music coming from chav's Citroen Saxos. lol.

August 26th 2008


Album Rating: 3.0

It's disappointing that so many of the songs on this album blend together, because their 2005 demo and the album "It's Our Time" both show that FYS has a little more diversity in their songwriting.

The highs are extremely enjoyable, but overall this album's just okay.

September 18th 2008


I really enjoy this album tbh

September 26th 2008


For me, I like to have hard thrown in with my pop because I can't stand having a band that's too radio-friendly. These guys may be a little spastic but I love their style and I expect great things if they refine their technique a little. Beatdown in the Key of Happy is the best pop punk song of 2007 (personal opinion though)

December 13th 2008


Album Rating: 4.5

I hate to say it but I completely disagree with the review - I'm head over heels in love with this band.

But the review was very well written - especially the summary line. Very well done

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2022
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy