Armor For Sleep

Smile For Them

Written by: PP on 27/11/2007 05:14:40

Finally a record that has grand production without sounding like a carbon copy of Panic! At The Disco. I've been so sick and tired of bands ruining their sound with unnecessary epicness and 'cinematic effects' that you've surely been able to read about it for the past few months in several of my reviews, but that's about to change now because of one record: Armor For Sleep's third album "Smile For Them".

In case you are unfamiliar with the band from the past, all you need to know is that they play highly emotionally charged alternative rock/punk with awesome choruses and the occasional indie rock reference to distinguish them from the gray mass. They own hit songs like "Car Underwater", the reason why you'll today find them on a major label, and it's not surprising why. These songs discussed life and death from an emotional perspective, allowing the youth to connect with the band in a much more deeper level than, say, Hawthorne Heights. Both "Dream To Make You Believe" and "What To Do When You Are Dead" are nearing a genre-classic status, and the undersigned must himself admit to having spent hours upon hours listening to the records in the past.

On "Smile For Them", the band slightly changes their approach both to the overall concept and songwriting. Instead of solely focusing on topics revolving around death, the band sings about superficiality of celebrity life, losing your loved one, and personal development among many other things. The quick reader will be shouting "emo" at me straight away, but the thing is this band's lyricist is a clever bastard: "What if you find out / everyone that's in your life / is only being paid off / by a TV studio / and every conversation / everyone's had with you / was scripted by the writers" is how "Smile For The Camera" opens the album, and the band sure as hell knows how to fit that into a hell of a song; it sounds massive without sacrificing any of the overly catchy songwriting we are used to from the band. In short, they haven't forgotten how to write great, memorable songs. Take "Williamsburg"'s guitars, for instance, which are perfectly fitted to the vocalist's clean tone. More clever lyricism here too: "Too hip to even clean your nose out.."

The somewhat slower "Somebody Else's Arms" is a touching song about seeing your loved one fade away from you in favor of another man, complete with a punch-y beat and sky-high guitars. Even the ballads, like "Hold The Door" are great, and at no point make me want to skip onto the next track.

About half way through, the album does lose a bit of steam though. There is less punk-influence, and more melodic alternative rock sweetness. Although many of these songs are good as well, they are a bit of a let down from the first half of the album, which contains pretty much the best material the band has written to date, save for "Car Underwater". It's not a big minus, but enough to drag the grade down a notch from the best quartile the album was otherwise heading towards. Nevertheless, this is a must have for everyone who loves emotionally charged, straightforward rock with great choruses and enough lyrical depth to tickle your intellectual capacity a little. Armor For Sleep fans: prepare for a different sound, but the change is for the better. Trust me on this one.


Download: Smile For Them, Williamsburg, Hold The Door, Run Right Back In
For the fans of: Taking Back Sunday, Senses Fail, Matchbook Romance, A Thorn For Every Heart
Listen: Myspace

Release date 30.10.2007
Sire Records

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