UnderWerket, Copenhagen, DEN - 21/8
A Day To Remember
What Separates Me From You
Written by: BL on 29/12/2010 04:26:09
We love contentious and controversial bands for all sorts of reasons at Rockfreaks.net, and A Day To Remember is one that divides critics and even the staff here alike. Their 2009 "Homesick" release was my second best album of that year for those who might remember. The songs were super catchy, the lyrics were great to sing-a-long to and well written and the heavy sections didn't feel tacked on or unnecessary. That was just my opinion though (and that of lots of others) and there were still plenty out there who disagreed. Indeed the band have yet to convince everybody that their pop-punk-metalcore combination really works (on paper it might still seem strange - even to me) or that they can be taken seriously, so will they be able to do it with the hotly anticipated followup "What Separates Me From You"?.
So despite the band maintaining that they would not 'sell-out' and write a pop-punk only record and forgo all heavy elements, which considering how good some of their all-pop-punk songs are ("Right Where You Want Me To Be" comes to mind), would not be a bad thing; "What Separates Me From You" is certainly nowhere near as heavy as "Homesick" or "For Those Who Have Heart". Not that I was expecting such, but the balance of the heavy and soft elements at first seemed a little skewed for what I was used to from these guys. Opener "Sticks & Bricks" is one of the only songs that resembles the A Day To Remember we all know, screamed verses into a catchy hook-laiden chorus then into an angry breakdown ("my heart is filled with hate" - sounds pretty angry). Songs like "All I Want", "It's Complicated" and "This Is The House Doubt Built" may resemble classic A Day To Remember too despite being not that heavy at all, but they are surprisingly average - well written, but only good in parts while suffering a bit too much as almost-fillerish. I wasn't sure what to make of "2nd Sucks" at first either. It's the first ever A Day To Remember that is all screaming and gang-shouts and is more or less one breakdown after another (thankfully only being two and half minutes long). It's certainly plenty aggressive ("Because without me, you would not exist." *cue breakdown*) and pummels hard in the face if you like that sort of thing. That said it's also kind of gimmicky and perhaps more of a novelty 'fun' song if anything else (the Mortal Kombat sample for "Fight!" is used at the beginning - effective foreshadowing).
"Better Off This Way" returns to normality (at least for them) and again displays their catchy pop-punkish side (complete with obnoxious "Woah Ah OH"s) peppered with a few screamed phrases that doesn't come close as being hard as the previous song. "All Signs Point To Lauderdale" continues frontman Jeremy Mckinnon's trend of hatin' on 'towns' (in fact the first words of the song and chorus is, would you have guessed, "I hate this town..."). But aside from the cliched lyrics, the song is probably one of the most memorable on the whole album - it just urges you to sing with it, and the instrumentals are uplifting and feel-good enough to nod your head to every time. "You Be Sonic, I'll Be Tails" is a darker track and is the final heavy outing on the album. It did so well in being a release for Jeremy's anger - well laid out verses and a chorus that is as bitter as it is catchy: "You killed what's left of the good in me, I'm tired so let me be broken". That is until we got to the breakdown which seemed a little too weak to begin with, those single notes that got added onto the chugs just didn't work. Finally we have "Out Of Time" and "If I Leave" to round out the album. Both songs share a lot of similarities - all singing, all pop-punk and probably the strongest indicators of their New Found Glory influence (something they have always had). These songs also took the longest for me to really fully appreciate, but with the case of the latter in particular - has become something I always listen to right away. "If I Leave" is probably what you have if you combined "Have Faith In Me" with "Another Song About The Weekend" from "Homesick" - softy lyrics with an energetic, fist-pumpingly catchy instrumental backing that actually closes out the album in the best possible way.
So is "What Separates Me From You" better than "Homesick"? Well probably not by a smidge. Fans of A Day To Remember should still be able to find lots here worthwhile because the hooks are all mostly there, some just have to be dug up from repeated listens. Those who prefer their heavy side may be a little disappointed though with a lack of really decent mosh-worthy parts aside from the screamed verses since the breakdowns that do appear are only average at best unfortunately (including "2nd Sucks"). I also hesistate to say that the songwriting has really progressed or necessarily improved all that much from "Homesick" other than with "All Signs..." and "If I Leave". Personally I'd be happy if they just keep writing songs like those two, but then they wouldn't be the A Day To Remember I enjoy unless there was a scream here and a breakdown there. I think the most telling thing will be how everybody responds to the new material live, but give "What Separates Me From You" some time to sink in and maybe it will leave it's mark.
Download: Sticks & Bricks, All Signs Point To Lauderdale, If I Leave
For the fans of: New Found Glory, Four Year Strong, The Ghost Inside