Review Summary: Rehab for the disappointed addict.
Truly, the cover art of Just Like You
represents the essence of Falling In Reverse. More than Ronnie’s immense ego, more that his attempts to be serious, even more than the decent guitar solo every now and then, Falling In Reverse’s biggest strength is its hedonism. While The Drug In Me Is You
was occasionally overly somber, it’s overall fun factor saved it. However, Fashionably Late
, which reeked heavily of failed innovation and too much focus on Ronnie’s past as a drug addict, was a catastrophic failure. Indeed, Late
even left die-hard FIR fans wondering what was wrong with the egotistical frontman, and the rest of the band for letting him run the show. Still, Just Like You
was highly anticipated, but how does it stick up" Despite the obvious pun, as rehab.
It’s safe to say that this is the strongest album Falling In Reverse has released yet, because they’ve finally focused on what they’re best at: plain, dumb fun. Gone are the overly-somber overtones that sometimes plagued Drug and the failed attempts at “rapcore” off Late
, in are Jovi-influenced classic rock sections blended with heavier growls and dubstep samples. Ronnie seems to have finally found a comfortable vocal range, staying away from the raps (for the most part) and bragging an improved screamed performance. As well as improved screams, there’s also more from the rhythm section this time around. Rhythm guitarist Derek Jones is finally able to boast some punchy, catchy riffs that show he’s more than capable of just playing along (check the verses of “Sexy Drug”), while bassist Zakk Sandler shows up more than expected with simple-yet-enjoyable fills. Lead guitarist Jacky Vincent has improved further as well, especially on leads. While he proved he could shred on the group’s previous efforts, he actually shows he can craft plain leads without going crazy and soloing. The drummer still gives the expected performance, though, so don’t expect much from him.
Also improved is the band’s pop element: on Drug
, it was extremely inconsistent, on Late
, it showed up way too much, but here, it’s blended perfectly. Whether it’s nah-nah chants (“Just Like You”) or the fitting dubstep samples (“Wait And See”, “Chemical Prisoner”, “Sexy Drug”), the electronic elements actually make sense this time around. The band’s heavier moments are much stronger, with songs like “Guillotine IV” and “The Bitter End” are extremely angsty, but are strong musically and boast roaring growls and catchy choruses, easily surpassing failures like “Don’t Mess With Ouija Boards”. Finally, “Die For You” may boast Derek’s strongest riffs to date.
Other than the drummer, all the members have heavily improved. Both Derek and Zakk refuse to just blend in, while Jacky entertains with more leads than solos and Ronnie finally pulls off some decent growls. However, there’s still a great deal of filler and weak moments that ruin some of the songs (breakdown in “Die For You”, rapping in “Wait and See”) and feel unnecessary. The band still struggles lyrically, which we’ll get to in a minute.
Thankfully, Ronnie’s finally started making fun of himself, rather than boastfully putting himself up. The title track is a humorous rant about how he’s aware that he’s an arrogant jerk, but he just doesn’t give a crap, for example. More serious moments include a touching ode to his dead brother (“Brother”) and the demon-exorcising “God, If You’re Above”. However, a song like “Sexy Drug” is horrid, with its vulgar wordplay and sixteen-year old male inspired sentiments. Though it’s not quite as jarring as before, the lyrical change between hellishly angry and euphorically joyous does throw the listener off a little (“Sexy Drug” and “Brother” are polar opposites).
It may end up being one of the weaker records of the year, but one can’t deny it’s the best FIR has ever sounded, especially after the disappointment for FIR addicts that was Fashionably Late
. I’m not saying you absolutely have to pick it up, and you may be better skipping it, but consider Just Like You