As It Is

okay.

Written by: TL on 24/01/2017 13:09:08

As It Is, the UK-based pop-punk band of American-born former YouTuber Patty Walters, put themselves noticeably on the radar two years ago, with the release of "Never Happy, Ever After". It was a record that mostly side-stepped current pop-punk trends (where literally every band tries to sound like The Story So Far) and picked up on an older one (trying to sound as much like New Found Glory as possible instead), but more importantly it features extremely tight and infectious songwriting, which helped the band become music-magazine darlings and heaped considerable expectations on them for a good follow-up.

That follow-up arrived this Friday in form of "okay.", a record which cements the following about As It Is version 2017: One, they're tight with the pop-punk essentials of the 00's, echoing New Found Glory, Fall Out Boy, Set Your Goals, Amber Pacific and Motion City Soundtrack at various points on the albums and making it sound like loving tribute. Two, they're aware of what's expected of them, frontloading their album with exactly the kind of direct, no-nonsense, catchy singles you imagine both fans and affiliated music industry people want from them. And three, Walters, boy-band voice and YouTube quasi-fame aside, knows that to keep things interesting lyrically, he needs to let the audience in and sing about something meaningful for people to actually relate.

The album gives you eleven tracks in 36 minutes, and the first five are by-the-books, straight-to-the-point, infectious, sugary pop-punk singles. "Pretty Little Distance" has a sneer of irony to it, while "Okay" professes on grooves seemingly borrowed from Fall Out Boy and Third Eye Blind that Walters thinks he's anything but. Yet the singer isn't as messed up as he lets on, displaying balanced measures of regret, responsibility and acceptance in the following tunes "Hey Rachel", and "Patchwork Love", about letting a sister down and about letting go of a relationship you've grown out of.

What's interesting, though, is what As It Is do after spending the first five tracks honouring single commitments. If the LP's side B starts with "No Way Out", it would set it apart noticeably with a burst of skate punk tempo and a with a hard-edged, spoken/shouted Set Your Goals-style breakdown for a bridge. "Soap" then mellows down to a dramatic, Panic! At The Disco type verse that combines surprisingly with a throat-scraping emo anthem for a chorus. "Austen" immediately tops it, though, with a sombre power-ballad about dealing with visiting a loved one in the hospital. And then of further note, there's also the homesick "The Coast Is Where Home Is", which, among other things, finds Walters lamenting the closing of the first venue the band played in.

If there's criticism to be levelled at At It Is, it's mainly that the road they take to the punchline is often a bit too quick at getting in and out - perhaps a bit too adapted to modern attention spans. Because there are signs here that As It Is have it in them to mature from pop-punk novelty act to a band that also has the capacity for more full-fledged rock storytelling, but they don't quite give things the time or the frame to feel totally wholesome. It's like there's a lot of quality in this band, but for now it remains snack-sized and super sweetened, yet as long as they can keep growing and Walters doesn't develop any anxiety about letting listeners grow up along with him in the lyrics, there's no reason to not think about writing with an even deeper impact in mind.

8

Download: Hey Rachel, No Way Out, Austen
For The Fans Of: New Found Glory, Fall Out Boy, Motion City Soundtrack, Seaway
Listen: facebook.com/asitisofficial

Release date 20.01.2017
Fearless Records

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