Can you believe it’s been almost five years since we’ve had a full release from the boys hailing from Massachusetts?! Four Year Strong helped carved a path for many of our favourite easy-core bands, bringing that fantastic blend of heavy breakdowns and super catchy hooks. The question is, has the wait for the fathers of the genre been worth it?
According to FYS the album has been two years in the making, ensuring that everything was right from initial ideas to production. They have hooked up with producer Will Putney who worked with them on Enemy of the World and this immediately got me excited, as I haven’t really been blow away by much of the band’s work since then.
You can immediately tell from the first track ‘It’s Cool’ that this is Four Year Strong back at their best. The track comes across as an extended into but I think still is a great song in its own right. Their hardcore influences shine through in the chuggy guitar work and the epic off beat breakdown, but the thing that has been missing with Four Year Strong over their last few releases is that signature melodic hook and harmonic vocal. It’s back! The album drips with the super catchy melodic lines right from the off. As well as the intro, tracks such as ‘Talking Myself In Circles’, carry some great vocal work by Day & O’Connor and ‘Learn To Love The Lie’, which I swear just fell straight out of a teen comedy soundtrack from the 2000s, shows that catchiness is there by the bucket load.
The album drips with the super catchy melodic lines right from the off.
The album changes up tempo and feel a bit as it goes into title track ‘Brain Pain’ which starts with a slow trudge towards a classic super-fast pop-punk chorus. In places Four Year Strong have gone pretty heavy from what we are used to seeing. This comes through in a few ways. Firstly, the production values on the drums which have that stadium reverberation feel that you usually find on much heavier albums. Secondly the harmonic riff work from the guitars which is found across the whole record but most notably in this track and ‘The Worst Part Of Me’. Thirdly the breakdowns are quite brutal (in context of Four Year Strong) but it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is very much a pop-punk album at heart.
Tracks such as ‘Mouth Full Of Dirt’ and ‘Seventeen’ encapsulate this perfectly with Four Year Strong’s classic blend of upbeat, major key progressions underpinned by some heavy riff work on the guitars. There is also a lot of dynamic shifts with these tracks which help to keep you interested between those catchy choruses, jumping into half time drum breaks such as those found in ‘Usefully Useless’. The album ends with ‘Young At Heart’ which in itself is a big dynamic change up from the rest of the album. We’ve heard a lot of bands do this. Lots of layering of delayed guitars, synth and keeping it nice a slow leading into an epic ending. On first listen, it felt out of place, but after getting used to the album as a whole, it actually rounds it of well and makes it feel like a complete record rather than an assortment of ideas.
If there was one weakness in the record, it’s perhaps the lyric writing. Aside from ‘Be Good When I’m Gone’, which is a nice ballad and really adds to the dynamic tempo of the album, it all feels a bit generic. Some might argue that pop-punk has moved on a bit from this, but that’s never been the point with FYS, or any bands in this style. It’s about writing catchy, positively aggressive tunes that make you want to kick the windows out of your car during a long summer road trip with your mates, so everyone can get in on the action.
Brain Pain was released on 28th February 2020 on Pure Noise Records.
‘Brain Pain’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/brain-pain/1490648897
Brain Pain on Spotify
Talking Myself In Circles (Official Music Video)
Learn To Love The Lie (Official Music Video)
We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s latest album? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.
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