For some reason, one of which I cannot truly wrap my head around, is how the post-hardcore scene is now starting to blossom. Acts like Florida-based standout A Day To Remember are now starting to climb the U.S. mainstream charts, while also dominating sales and selling out concerts. Recently, I was reminded about how popular that genre has become, as tracks from ADTR’s latest album happened to soundtrack an entire episode of a Real World/Road Rules challenge on MTV. As sad as that might be, their fan-bases still happen to stay loyal, through album uncertainty to the concept of “selling out to the man.”
This then turns to Massachusetts-based hardcore vets Four Year Strong. The now quartet (they had a very public break-up with keyboardist Josh Lyford) continues on their journey to become one of the premier hardcore acts, but tends to trip themselves up on their newest release, In Some Way, Shape, or Form.
In Some Way takes the best parts of a band like Four Year Strong, and filters them into a more radio-friendly band. Their lead single off of the album, “Just Drive,” is a tailor-made rock song; taking enough of what the band has made in the past, mixing it with a friendliness that could easily place it into any alt-radio rotation. Comparing this song to the two singles off of their last album (Enemy of the World), it sadly cannot hold any candle. The intensity of the songs “It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now,” and “Tonight We Feel Alive (On A Saturday)” from their previous album has enough raw energy to tear down a venue, while this single can’t even start one.
Sadly, that’s what most of this album feels like. “The Security Of The Familiar, The Tranquility Of Repetition” (which would’ve been an incredibly appropriate title for this album) is an incredibly linear rock song, that happens to change its time signatures throughout. Two tracks towards the end of the album, “Unbreakable” and “Fight The Future,” sound INCREDIBLY similar to each other, making me have to double take that I didn’t accidentally put repeat on. “Sweet Kerosene” sounds like if you would take some of Alkaline Trio’s notes and put them to heavier music, which could be great if it wasn’t so monotonous.
Luckily, there are some bright spots in the rather bland album. The closing number “Only The Meek Get Pinched, The Bold Survive” is a dramatic rock ballad chanting lyrics of rebellion and companionship. “Heaven Wasn’t Built To Hold Me” is one of the better songs that features the almost dueling singers Dan O’Connor and Alan Day, although they both do a great job throughout this album.
To say Four Year Strong sold out their sound to sell albums would be incredibly strong to say. They more or less tried to change their sound that would be more appealing to the massive rock market. No doubt that In Some Way, Shape, Or Form will bring in quite a bit of new fans, but the already abundant Four Year Strong fan-base might feel let down by it instead. Four Year Strong is an incredibly talented band; they just happened to take a leap of faith. Sadly for them, the leap was more backwards than forwards.
Final Grade: D+
Go Download – “Only The Meek Get Pinched, The Bold Survive”