Four Year Strong

Rise Or Die Trying

Written by: PP on 30/09/2007 03:47:06

Faint church bells on the background, a crescendo of feedback and distortion lead up to the first chord before a sudden gang shout erupts: "START THE TAKE OVER!!". That's how Four Year Strong's new album "Rise Or Die Trying" starts, giving it a very Set Your Goal-ish feel. With song titles like "Prepare To Be Digitally Manipulated" and "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Hell" you can guess we are dealing with pop punk here. And it's likely going to end up being among your favorite pop punk albums this year if you share a music taste anywhere close to mine.

Why? Because it's another one of those albums that gives you a smile on your face by being just so damn joyful. It's also another example of how band's are getting tired of the whole polished 'n' predictable formula that's oversaturating the pop punk market currently. Yes, Four Year Strong sounds like what pop punk sounded in the 90s: it's raw, it's energetic and extremely melodic. Today that sound is referred to as 'happy hardcore', with special emphasis on the word "happy". Think Fall Out Boy with breakdowns and a bunch of gang vocals. Think "Hit Or Miss" era New Found Glory, in a slightly more modern outfit and with two vocalists (even the former Bury Your Dead vocalist guests on one track). And prepare for your room to be transformed into a trampoline, because there's no way you can keep your feet on the ground.

At first, the album doesn't impress much. The songs sound like replica's of those made by Set Your Goals, and it is possible to be quick and discard the album as merely a clone. Everything from the purposefully raw production and the frequent gang vocals to the gleeful dual vocalists battleing each other reminds you of what Set Your Goals did on "Mutiny!", with equally obvious references to early New Found Glory material as well. But does that really matter? Can you really deny that you wouldn't wanna have another band as good as Set Your Goals? I know I can't, especially because all songs work, even if they aren't very original. I find it hard to believe any pop punk fan could resist singing along to the infectious "Prepare To Be Digitally Manipulated" or the synth-filled punk rocker "Beatdown In The Hey Of Happy".

In summary, it might not sound like Hit The Lights or Amber Pacific, but this is essentially why it works. The band displays a refreshing wave of nostalgia and freshness in a genre that's increasingly becoming stale and overpopulated by bands which are so much pop that the punk part is forgotten almost entirely. Four Year Strong brings back punk to pop punk, without abandoning the pop elements. While "Rise Or Die Trying" might not be the best record of the year, it's absolutely one of those that'll put a smile on your face when you're feeling blue: It'll make you wanna dance around your room singing along to the catchy tunes all day.


Download: "The Take Over/Prepare To Be Digitally Manipulated", "Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die",
For the fans of: Set Your Goals, The Wonder Years, New Found Glory
Listen: Myspace

Release date 18.09.2007
I Surrender Records

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