Review Summary: Good vibes.
A Day to Remember are an incredibly middle of the road band. For every good song on their LP’s (Violence...
, and I’m Made of Wax Larry…
), there’s always a terrible song (Life Lessons…
, The Price We Pay
, and, well, the rest of the album) waiting for you after. Homesick
, as much as I love it (I wrote a goddamn awful review about it, I should know), is an incredibly repetitive record, taking every worst trope of the genre and putting it into the blender to be poured into the ears of the listener. But as time has progressed, ADTR have found a knack for creating solid, albeit slightly samey records. And even if Bad Vibrations
doesn’t hit the mark as much as it could have, its highlights certainly outweigh its lowlights.
The ‘heavier’ approach to much of the album is a surprisingly welcomed addition, not feeling as forced or cliché as it has in previous outings, particularly that of the aforementioned Homesick
. Opener Bad Vibrations
is perhaps a little too ‘The Ghost Inside’ for its own good, but it plays to A Day to Remember’s strengths; chunky riffs and powerful vocals. Jeremy McKinnon doesn’t disappoint, sounding more forceful than ever after thirteen years on the mic. His throaty screams sound great throughout, as too does his singing on follow-up Paranoia
. What’s most surprising, however, is track Exposed
. Taking cues from djent (you’re still listening to A Day to Remember by the way), its surprisingly crushing riff and melodic chorus leaves a shockingly good impact on the listener. Once again, McKinnon takes centre stage with his harsh vocals, but praise must be given to guitarists Kevin Skaff and Neil Westfall. Their ability to keep songs fresh (regardless of chugging, of which there is plenty) through varied and catchy riffs and licks certainly helps songs such as the aforementioned Exposed
become far better than it has any right to be. Hell, Reassemble
has a sweeping section. In an A Day to Remember song! The drums are also great, perhaps at times only doing what is needed, but Alex Shelnutt does enough with his kit to keep them sounding fresh.
As with any ADTR album, however, there’s always the painfully-average songs that find themselves sprinkled in-between the great ones. Naivety
sounds too straight-forward and samey for its own good, with the layering of McKinnon’s vocals detracting from an already boring song. Bullfight
, although it picks up to the end, is one of the lesser songs the band has written; the clean production and layered vocals detracting from an otherwise great set of songs. As typical with the band at this point, the bass of Joshua Woodard is thrown to the side in favour of louder guitar and vocals. Although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, a strong bass line could’ve potentially provided more backbone to an already catchy record. The record begins to truck along following the soft-heavy dynamic of Justified
; We Got This
is an ‘emotional’, straight-forward, pop-punk-esque song, as is Same About You
. And although Jeremy shows off his ‘high’ register in Turn Off The Radio
, it doesn’t differentiate itself enough to be considered noteworthy. That's not to say these songs are bad; if anything, they're just some good fun. But the fact that some of the band's best material is present here, it's a little disappointing to say the least.
What’s surprising, however, is the quality of closer Forgive and Forget
. The guitar line plods along at a steady pace, letting the violin carry the song along. McKinnon once again shows his vocal potential, performing at a much more reserved pace before the chorus picks everything up and the last minute and a half brings all of the elements together for a surprisingly fantastic result. The stark difference in styles throughout much of Bad Vibrations
provides great tracks in conjunction with some rather uninteresting songs, but proves to be a great addition to the A Day to Remember discography.
Recommended Tracks: Bad Vibrations, Exposed, Reassemble, Forgive and Forget.