Mayday Parade

Black Lines

Written by: TL on 23/10/2015 14:02:33

With their new album "Black Lines", Florida pop-punks Mayday Parade continue to seem reliable like clockwork, releasing an album every two years without fault. Yet with that being said, quick forays into the new record will establish that there are slight changes about this time around. Ever since the band's second album, 2009's "Anywhere But Here", on which they debuted as a one-vocalist band, the group has stood for a glossy, almost fairytale-like emotional pop-punk, often coming within grasping distance of greatness, yet never consistently fortifying themselves there. With "Black Lines" however, the band seems to have looked to the more grimy end of their genre for inspiration, even enlisting Mike Sapone to produce - aka. the man behind Brand New's "Devil And God..." sound.

The album starts much more immediately than we're used to, with "One Of Them Will Destroy The Other", which delivers pop-punk of the fuzzy and embittered - yet still melodic - kind, and develops in a pretty straightforward way. Frontman Derek Sanders sings a much more shouty style than usually, and the track features guest vocals from Real Friends' Dan Lambton, though his part is hardly too striking. While the song is enjoyable, things become more interesting in the following "Just Out Of Reach". Here the cascading guitar chords and the "Drop everything" hook immediately pull your thoughts towards Taking Back Sunday, whose classic qualities are continually echoed throughout the song.

As for the third track "Hollow", however, it seems like Mayday Parade have listened a little too closely to "Devil And God...", with the result, unfortunately, ending up less than memorable, more along the lines of the many grungy shoegaze ventures that bands like Citizen have explored in recent times. The latter can also be said of the softer ballad "Letting Go", which presumably is meant to show maturation, but ultimately just feels a bit banal.

The album's best songs are next in line, though, in the powerful "Let's Be Honest", where the band's newfound, more desperate urgency is delivered with much more momentum, and in "Keep In Mind, Transmogrification Is A New Technology", which has a wide-eyed, anthemic quality akin to some of Yellowcard's better songs. And indeed, the melodramatic lyrical hook of "You'll say you lack the courage and the guts of a hero" is up there with the catchiest stuff Mayday Parade has written to date. Sanders also gets the balance right here, between his traditional tuneful singing, and that hint of roughness at the edge of his voice in the right moments.

At this junction, it is already clear that Mayday Parade's experimentation with showing off a darker side of their sound, is a bit hit and miss. In places, it gives them a nice bit of edge that is a welcome addition to their traditionally shiny soundscape, but in others it feels more derivative than inventive. And regrettably, the second half of the album has more cases of the latter, with the possible exception of the rollicking "Until You're Big Enough", to the point where the album feels like it drags on a bit, despite counting a relatively reasonable twelve tracks. It leaves you with an overall feeling that it's nice to hear the band allow a bit more grit into their universe, but that this has primarily worked in their more energetic tracks, less so when they try to pull off the mellow and atmospheric Brand New -type of songs.

Download: Let's Be Honest; Keep In Mind, Transmogrification Is A New Technology; Just Out Of Reach
For The Fans Of: Taking Back Sunday, Hawthorne Heights, Yellowcard

Release date 09.10.2015
Fearless Records

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