Review by Shannon Shumaker
Four Year Strong just seem to get better and better with each new release, and their new self-titled full length is no exception. Only a few songs into the album, it’s apparent that Four Year Strong’s sound has grown with this release, and in the best way possible. This album isn’t necessarily a drastic change from their EP Go Down In History, released last summer, but rather a natural progression that is sure to hold fans over until whatever this band decides to do next.
The first three songs on Four Year Strong kick the album off right, easing you into a slightly poppier sound from the band, but definitely not anything too easygoing or soft compared to their old material. “I Hold Myself In Contempt” is on the more melodic side, but it still holds a hard hitting chorus that (any fan will tell you) makes a strong Four Year Strong song. The second song, “We All Float Down Here” wastes no time in picking up the pace. Right off the bat, the song is carried by a strong drumbeat and aggressive vocals, and as the song progresses, it becomes apparent that it is literally impossible for Four Year Strong to write something that doesn’t make you want to get up and move. The chorus of “We All Float Down Here” is catchy, carried by that same strong drum work from the beginning and surrounded by hard hitting verses and breakdowns. Then comes “Eating My Words,” which is poppy as hell and even more catchy compared to the hard hitting “We All Float Down Here.” The progression is much needed, and serves to showcase Four Year Strong’s versatility. While this band really does shine on aggressive summer anthems like the final track, “Go Down In History,” they also excel at softer pop-punk songs like “Eating My Words,” which hosts some really great vocal harmonies between Dan O’Connor and Alan Day.
There really isn’t one weak link on this album. Trust me, I tried to find one, and instead, kept falling in love with each and every track that Four Year Strong threw at me. There are obviously some standout songs, though, one being “Wipe Yourself Off, Man. You Dead,” which is another upbeat poppy track. The best part about it, though, is that the song still has that classic Four Year Strong sound - crunchy guitars, strong lead riffs, a catchy drum beat and dueling vocals that urge you to sing along. “Wipe Yourself Off, Man. You Dead,” is the perfect example of a band expanding on their sound and doing it right. While it does differ from the band’s old material, the difference isn’t night and day, but at the same time, it’s not so similar that it becomes boring.
“Stolen Credit Card!” kicks the energy back up and then some. While the song starts off slow, it comes in quick with fast paced guitar and drum work coupled with aggressive vocals. The song quickly becomes one of the strongest on the album due to the great vocal harmonies and catchy “woah”s in the chorus. Another strong track is the heavily punk influenced, “Who Cares,” which is a one minute and fifty-five second whirlwind, making it the shortest song on the album. “I’m a Big, Bright, Shining Star” is the strong single in the second half of the album, full of great singalong parts, gang vocals, intricate guitar work and a melody that is sure to get stuck in your head. Following “I’m a Big, Bright Shining Star” is “The Sound Of Your Heart,” which slows things down nicely before the album rounds out with the band’s previously released anthem, “Go Down In History.”
Carried by catchy, strong guitar riffs, memorable and melodic choruses and breakdowns that pack a punch, this album takes that trademark Four Year Strong sound to a whole new level. Every song feels like a natural progression and serves its own purpose on the album - none of them feel unnecessary or out of place, making it incredibly hard to choose just one favorite. Four Year Strong’s self-titled release is ambitious, catchy and is sure to become the album of the summer.
Listen to "We All Float Down Here" "Wipe Yourself Off, Man. You Dead" or "Stolen Credit Card!"