Four Year Strong – In Some Way, Shape, Or Form – Review

By Admin  //  Music Reviews  //  No Comments

Those who settled down with Four Year Strong when they released their break out effort “Rise Or Die Trying,” were pulled in by their rowdy pop punk and anthem-styled vocals, ala groups like Set Your Goals. Since though, the band has slowly taken the edge off of their normal rambunctious selves, releasing 2010′s, appeal-seeking, “Enemy Of The World” — which had the spirit of old FYS but differing production and structure, making me a little curious as to if the hit-producing, radio friendly direction the band was headed in was to continue with their latest effort, “In Some Way, Shape, Or Form.”

To my chagrin, it has. Much like the band’s peers, Set Your Goals, with their latest album “Burning At Both Ends,Four Year Strong has all but abandoned their familiar gritty pop punk, in favor of a formulaic pop punk, with glossy production that  goes down smoother. From the beginnings of “In Some Way, Shape, Or Form,” in tracks like “The Security Of The Familiar, The Tranquility Of Repetition” and the amped yet dull track “Stunk In The Middle,“ we quickly realize the changes — most notably being the depressing lack of synthesizers thanks to the departure of Josh Lyford, the use of overly-repetitive hooks, and a general loss of identity retooled and called “maturation.” That is until we hear “Fairweather Fan” which stays in the vein of early era FYS, complete with fidgety riffs, anthem shouts with Alan Day’s stretching vocals, and even a shout out with the chanting lyrics “Rise or die trying! Rise or die trying!” How fitting. The other shot of nostalgia kicks in with “Falling On You,” with its jumpy melodic guitars and rousing lyrics “I’m taking on the world. Strike me out,
take a breath full of doubt. Spit back at the wall, brace yourself for the backlash. You better believe that, it’s falling on you.

Don’t get me wrong though, “In Some Way, Shape, Or Form” still comes equipped with the bands signature anthem singing as well as Dan and Alan’s infectious melodic guitars, but they are mostly woven together in garden-variety song structures with littered power-chords aplenty. There are tons of hits and catchy singles on here, just nothing that shouts “original.” There are even times in this effort that i double check to make sure I’m not listening to Sum 41, which no band should want for their fans. Sure, bands don’t want to make the same record over and over, and this effort has some pretty awesome cruising songs (“Just Drive”) and ballad tracks, like the uplifting “Unbreakable” and building closer, “Only The Meek Get Pinched. The Bold Survive,“ but it seems par for the course for bands who seek to “mature,” only to make an album that sounds like everything else.

If I was given the option to listen to a more polished, yet plain Four Year Strong, or half the other bland schlock out there, FYS would always come out on top, but as an effort, “In Some Way, Shape, Or Form” doesn’t inspire the imagination of the pop rock youth the way the flaws, blood, sweat, and tears of their early works did. Instead it seeks to be a more refined (a.k.a unremarkable) album, one that echos on the radio and goes in one ear and just as quickly out the other.  [Admin]

Score: (3 out of 5)

Release Date: November 8th, 2011
Record Label: Decaydance Records
Genre: Pop Rock
RIYL: Set Your Goals, The Wonder Years, Me Vs. Hero

Track Listing:
1. The Infected
2. The Security of the Familiar, the Tranquility of Repetition
3. Stuck in the Middle
4. Just Drive
5. Fairweather Fan
6. Sweet Kerosene
7. Falling on You
8. Heaven Wasn’t Built to Hold Me
9. Unbreakable
10. Bring on the World
11. Fight the Future
12. Only the Meek Get Pinched, the Bold Survive

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