Review Summary: identity crisis personified
I’ve always had a mild soft-spot for A Day to Remember’s puzzling blend of mainstream pop-rock sensibilities and eye-rolling metalcore br0downs that are always prefaced by a corny one-liner about disrespecting one’s surroundings or proclaiming that "this is a battleground"
. It always felt so befitting of the band’s young age at the time and the era in which they rose to stardom; taking the Warped Tour-scene by storm and teenagers Tumblr profiles all the same and now enough time has passed that I’m able to look back on even the cringiest moments found on the band’s earliest albums with rose-tinted glasses. 14-year old me really vibed with Homesick
back in 2009 and the passage of time likely won’t ever undermine that.
Fast forward to (not 2012, but rather 2021) and the long
overdue You’re Welcome
arrives with god knows what mission statement. It’s not a throwback to the band’s early years, nor is it a continuation of 2016’s noticably heavier Bad Vibrations
. Instead, the band’s seventh record fumbles all over the place, both doubling down on the band’s pop-punk aesthetic with "Degenerates" & "Mindreader" albeit without any of the charisma or charm that sent ”All I Want” soaring to the billboard charts back in 2010. Luckily, the Will Putney produced ”Last Chance to Dance (Bad Friend)” harkens back to the metalcore tenacities of the band’s sound with pleasing results, complete with crunchy guitar riffs, an earworm chorus and surprisingly competent growls from frontman Jeremy Mckinnon. Similarly, the strong presence of electronics on "Resentment" keeps it from sounding like typical heavy-cut on an ADTR-record and the chorus is strong enough to incentivize multiple listens. Even so, my biggest gripe with A Day To Remember’s sound – which has persisted all throughout the entirety of their career – is that their transition from sugar-coated pop to full-blown metalcore is rarely (if ever) smooth and the way in which this record alternates from Imagine Dragon-like choruses found on "Bloodsucker" and "F.Y.M." (the latter has a hook which reads ”Wait'll I get some *** you money
”) feel as clumsy and hap-hazardly as it did during the band’s heydays. Even more puzzling, on You’re Welcome
, the band juxtaposes their blend of metalcore and pop-punk with full-on Top 40 pop songs such as ”High Diving”, which sounds like something that was grabbed from the cutting room-floor from a Maroon 5 writing session, complete with shockingly inept lyrics that are likely to make you wince.
”It's hard to practice what you preach
When life is a beach
I'm high divin'”
The instrumentation on You’re Welcome
is one the few areas that has seen a positive overhaul. The band wisefully incorporates a broader spectrum of sounds such as southern-sounding guitar strumming, pianos and occasional 808-beats on "Looks Like Hell" and varied percussion plays a bigger part overall throughout the album’s 14 songs – a positive change of pace from all the trite chugging found on the band’s previous records. Unfortunately, Jeremy Mckinnon’s vocal performance is a constant hit-or-miss; sounding straight up deflated and stuck on autopilot on the opening song "Brick Wall", which is a disjointed mess of fluctuating tempo-changes topped off with the laziest outro you’re bound to hear all year. A few pleasing vocal melodies rear their head here and there, like on the ballads "Only Money","Everything We Need" and the head-bobbing pop-punk grit of ”Re-Entry” but from the lyricism to the less-than-inspired choruses that are omni-present throughout, Jeremy sounds noticeably unenthusiastic as he half-heartedly belts one tired vocal melody at a time.
is A Day to Remember’s identity crisis personified, as the band simultaneously wants to imitate massive names in the industry while also cater to their core audience who have fond memories of crowd surfing to the sounds of "The Downfall of Us All" while supposedly sporting a black tank-top and khaki shorts. It’s too all over the place even by the band’s own standards as they seemingly can’t commit to one type of sound for more than a song or two, with results that range from average to laughably half-baked. A few catchy moments coalesce into making this a passable listen, but even so, this is easily the clumsiest release thus far in the band’s long-running history. Back to the drawing board you go.