The punk-metalcore band is back, and with an album that has several bright spots, even if it is a tad uneven.
A Day to Remember’s sound has always been a bit unusual, which has really been the key to their success. Merging pop-punk and metalcore gives them a unique sound and voice, and created some pretty incredible songs, and made their first couple of albums in particular highly memorable. Here the effort is still the same, although it comes off at times as more segmented than blended.
For instance, the album’s opener and title track is a distinctly metalcore song, with even the sung chorus giving a more melancholy tone that’s more common for the genre. “Exposed” is very similar in that way. But then the album also has songs such as “Naivety” that are distinctly pop-punk and sound like they belong on a different album. That in and of itself doesn’t make these songs bad, but it does make the first part of the feel jarring transitioned and choppy–these songs are all in the first four tracks of the record.
The choppiness is only musically, either. We go from the first track, with an emphasis on accountability (“Don’t forget that this is a choice/Pick your poison/Live with remorse”) to “Paranoia,” a pretty realistic image of what someone suffering from the same goes through, to “Naivety,” wishing for younger, more innocent days. Then we go from “Exposed,” a rant against politics, to “Bullfight,” a promise to help and lead someone else.
As a whole, the first part of the record is a tad lax, with a few great songs (“Paranoia” and “Justified” in particular) amidst several mediocre songs that, despite a lot of energy and heart, come across as bland and without enough great melody to catch on. But, here’s the thing – Bad Vibrations is a late bloomer.
When you get into the second half of the album, there’s little that doesn’t work well. “We Got This,” while essentially a pop-punk song, is an extremely catchy one with a positive, uplifting message. “Same About You” is equally catchy and includes a great blend of melody and thick metalcore breakdown. “Turn Off the Radio” is probably the album’s best song, with a combination of energy, heaviness, and melody that’s hard to match. Through to the end, the second half of Bad Vibrations soars with a great balance of melodic finesse and heavy fist-pumping energy.
Taken holistically, the album is a bit of a mixed bag. There are no glaring red marks in terms of the album’s themes, and there’s not much swearing here, either (although I should mention that the f-word does pop up more than once in “Paranoia”). Certainly there’s some of the aggression and angst you tend to find in hard rock music, but it’s also balanced to some degree with the positivity you find in songs like “We Got This,” and “Bullfight.” It’s hardly a perfect album, and it wouldn’t even call it a great one. But there are some cool songs that make this worth listening to, and it comes out looking a bit cleaner than its peers, even if it is a rocky ride at points.