Review Summary: For those worried if they would sell out the answer is probably yes.
A few months ago I stumbled across the information that A Day To Remember was writing a new record. As a big time fan of their older work (Homesick was decent but not what it could've been), I was instantly pretty excited but pretty immediately was overwhelmed with thoughts of doubt that I would be pleased with the outcome. Thats what always happens with these bands that get big so fast right" They blow up overnight and we get all excited for their new music to come out and it's nothing but a let down. Well thats why I thought of "What Separates Me From You" in a different light. I expected to hate it therefore I would be less disappointed when I finally got to listen to it. Well I suppose it kind of worked because although I have problems with it, I like this album for the most part.
So for those of you not familiar with their previous work, A Day To Remember is known for their unique combination of hardcore and pop-punk. Followers of the band have probably noticed they have been leaning more and more on the pop side with each release. With "What Separates Me From You" pretty much goes full tilt on the pop aspect of their music. There are only three heavy songs on the album, period. The opening track "Sticks And Bricks" starts with some harsh vocals and heavy riffing and gets your adrenaline flowing for the mean time and then it breaks into a classic ADTR sing along chorus and of course the open chug chug breakdown. So after the first listen all those old school fans are probably pretty "stoked" with what they've heard so far. Well heres where it starts o fall apart for them and where all the 14 year old scene girls start getting wet. The next track is a pretty mediocre sing along with nothing heavy and bland, barely heard riffing. Nothing complex here. The whiny vocals will appeal to some and repulse everyone else. It's catchy none the less and has some replay value but the "hardcore" kids probably skipped this song looking for something "br00t4l". Well they'll find it in the song "2nd Sucks" but not after getting through next years top 10 radio hit song "It's Complicated". I won't lie. I heard the intro and thought somebody switched the disc for a Metro Station album. The chorus has a friggen tamborine in it god damnit!
Ok so for those that follow the buzz of this particular music scene you probably played "2nd Sucks" on repeat when the band released it a few weeks prior to the albums release. The band boasted about how they were not selling out and were gonna continue making heavy music and even posted video updates mocking the idea that they would ever stop screaming and playing breakdowns and all that good stuff. Well this was the alleged proof of it. There is no singing in the song and it's basically a 2 1/2 minute breakdown but hey this is what everyone was waiting for apparently. But is this really enough to say that they stuck to their promise" Even if it is, the production quality on the heavier parts of this album is just short of awful. The breakdowns sound muffled and the low tuned guitars are almost not heard (Listen to the breakdowns on "For Those Who Have Heart" and compare them to this album).
Regardless of what your answer to the previous question was, if you enjoyed "Homesick" you will like this album. But for all those kids still blasting 1958 at busy intersections you are going to be very disappointed (but then again you probably gave up after "Homesick" was released). Overall there are some seriously good pop songs on here and a few heavy tracks. I've always thought they were good with their lyrics and they don't fail here. They feel a little less cheesy and "forced" than other bands in their genre (Here comes a barrage of scene kid facebook statuses).
So unfortunately I have to rate this as it stands and not compare it to their past releases. If I were doing that I would probably deem this at about a 2.0, but they did what they wanted to do and they did it well. I'm sure you're gonna hear these guys on the radio sometime in 2011 because that's what 70% of the songs on "What Separates Me From You" seem like they were created for. So when you put this in your CD player for the first time don't be fooled by the opener and the previously released "2nd Sucks". they create the illusion that this is gonna be a head banger. But unfortunately old school ADTR fans just got hustled.
Heavy songs: "Sticks And Bricks", "2nd Sucks", and "You Be Tails, Ill Be Sonic"
Pop songs: "All I want", "Better Off This Way", "This Is The House That Doubt Built"