The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

Lonely Road

Written by: PP on 04/02/2009 13:07:35

Sometimes the predictions that I make at the end of my reviews fail miserably, and sometimes they turn out to be fantastically right, as was the case with The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and their major label debut "Don't You Fake It", which I predicted to launch the band into mainstream recognition before the end of the year it was released. Turns out the album went beyond my wildest of expectations and was certified Gold for sales in excess of 500,000 copies in the US alone. For once, every bit of the success was deserved, as "Don't You Fake It" was an excellent pop punk/post-hardcore hybrid that had a number of songs that still sound great even today, three years later. But because more or less every song on the record is great, it also left a number of questions about the future open, the most important one being where will the band go next? After a three year wait, which was long enough for most people to forget about these guys, including me, "Lonely Road" is the answer to that question, and unfortunately, it seems to shout "back to obscurity" loud and clear.

Basically, TRJA are committing the cardinal sin of a band who has just made it big: the removal of every element that made you big in the first place in favor of an 'evolved' sound targeted at the big audiences, the error that I've lately begun calling the 'Yellowcard syndrome' ("Lights And Sounds" anyone?). The problem with such thinking is that it's entirely illogical, because why on earth would you think that the 500,000+ people who bought your record would want you to remove all signs of the screaming, raw edge, angst and overall credibility from your sound? And yet that's exactly what The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus have done here. There isn't a SINGLE scream on the album, not a sole moment where you can hear the wonderful angst of the debut album or the great lyrical work of songs like "Face Down". Instead, the band has opted for utterly boring anthemic mainstream rock of tracks like "You Better Pray" which, frankly said, are absolutely terrible in comparison to the band's older material. What's with the optimistic vibe of "No Spell"? What's with the slow pace of "Step Right Up" and its over-simplistic chorus melody? Even the tracks that sound at least somewhat like the band's older work ("Pen & Paper", "Represent", "Pleads And Postcards") suffer extensively from the lack of angst, emotionally charged delivery, and the screaming. Then on the other end of the spectrum we have ballads like "Believe" which honestly reminds me of crap like "The Reason" by Hoobastank or that stupid Keane song that was all over the radio. I get it, there are some people who like that crap (because they haven't discovered better music yet, you can't blame them), but I honestly can't see a single TRJA fan finding this song listenable. Then there's the generally preaching sound of tracks like "Godspeed"--think the incredible amount of useless loose space of Angels & Airwaves here--that makes me feel as if the band is moralizing and speaking down to me. Yuck.

At the same time, the great production and the big, spacey sound of the album makes it difficult to criticize it more than I already have. While these songs absolutely pale in comparison with anything on "Don't You Fake It", there's still way worse stuff out there in the music industry. I guess whether you like "Lonley Road" or not comes down to whether or not you knew these guys before this album, because as it stands now, BOTH the pop punk and post-hardcore elements have disappeared entirely from TRJA's arsenal...this is pure mainstream rock and even in that category there's no way these guys will return to mainstream media attention with a plate filled with as much bullcrap as "Lonely Road" is.


Download: Pen & Paper, Represent, Pleads & Postcards
For the fans of: Hoobastank, Keane
Listen: Myspace

Release date 03.02.2009
EMI Records

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