As It Is

Never Happy, Ever After

Written by: TL on 25/04/2015 19:27:24

"I just wanna believe in something! But I think horoscopes are bullshit!" The catchy chorus is likely to have been etched in your mind if you heard As It Is's "This Mind Of Mine" EP from last year, a record which gave you something to look forward to, especially if you were a fan of the sugary New Found Glory style of pop-punk. Back then the young UK based group still had some rawness and grit in their expression, but as they return this year with their debut full length "Never Happy, Ever After" and a deal with Fearless Records, the production now clearly signals that the group has no intentions of staying underground for long.

Still, As It Is sound more like New Found Glory than probably anything or anyone, and you know from the second the album starts that the lads are aiming directly to fill your head with sugary, sticky catchiness. Melodious guitar leads ring on top of crunchy rhythm and singer Patty Walters sings with as soft and explicit pathos as he can muster, and with a youthful, nasal raspiness to his tone that leaves no doubt as to him drawing loads of inspiration from Jordan Pundik. The build-ups towards the central choruses could not be tighter if we were talking about chart-oriented pop-songs, and similarly the choruses themselves are exactly as catchy as you'd expect if you imagine an essential pop-punk band in your head.

It helps, of course, that the vocals gain extra dynamics from the back and forth with Andy Westhead, whose native British dialect contrasts Walters' American noticeably, and added to this Walters is also clearly doubled in the recording on wisely considered occasions. The prime example is the irresistibly infectious "Sorry", the chorus of which is the stuff pop-punk textbooks should be made of, and naturally it has an anthemic bridge as well, brainwashing you with the refrain of "I'm just a reader, you're every chapter, never happy ever after!".

As for the lyrics, you get the feeling that As It Is are in fact trying to set up some atmospheres with their lines, but their youth definitely shines through in some less flattering parts. Westhead shouting "If you can't trust a liar, how can you! Trust! Me?!" in "Dial Tones" like his life depended on it makes you shake your head, especially because his singing is anything but tuneful, and thus wisely kept to short contributions on this record. Similarly the otherwise catchy ballad "My Oceans Were Lakes" lives by a rather corny metaphor, and when things get this soft, it's clear how poppy the band is, as they sound almost like Savage Garden in a tune like this.

It's clear then, that "Never Happy, Ever After" is pop punk with clear emphasis on the pop, and some will inevitably shrug them off as "high school pop punk", which is fair in its own way. Still, fans of the genre know that the same could be said of groups like Simple Plan and Hit The Lights and it is exactly on that track that As It Is position themselves with this album. More importantly though, they do so in absolutely convincing fashion, as "Dial Tones" for instance, is another super catchy tune, its lyrical misstep aside. Within the premises of shameless pop-punk, the songwriting is simply top notch, especially for a band so young, and you figure that the band has either really done its homework or simply listened closely to advice from the network they've no doubt gained through Fearless.

The skinny is that if you're looking for pop-punk that's super melodious and densely packed with catchy hooks, then it rarely emerges as well-made as "Never Happy, Ever After". Just don't expect the grit of the American "realist pop-punk" bands or the depth of The Wonder Years for instance. As It Is should be concerned with not moving any closer to boy band territory, perhaps showing a bit more of Walters' strained vocal parts as well as more guitar power on future releases, lest they limit their fanbase to teenagers and thus shorten their longevity. For now though, this is a thoroughly crafted album for pop-punk lovers and radio music fans alike, so you know, hurry up and enjoy it before your sister discovers the band and ruins it.


Download: Sorry, Dial Tones, Cheap Shots And Setbacks
For The Fans Of: New Found Glory, Hit The Lights, Simple Plan, Man Overboard

Release date 20.04.2015
Fearless Records

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