Ever since the band formed some thirteen years ago, Florida’s A Day to Remember have always been well-known for somehow holding the exquisite fine line between the heaviness and snarling temper of post-hardcore and the succinctly bittersweet emotional value of pop punk. Such an amalgamation has since been adopted by hundreds of ADTR’s peers, but the band which initially started this effective balance have never really lost their touch: rather, they have built on the success and maintained it over the years. It would be fair to say that ADTR’s career has not been without its few mis-steps (I.e., the legal lawsuit with former label Victory Records over a dispute with their recording contract), but the band have since revolutionised their own image and journeyed forth once more towards the mainstream.
2016 sees the release of ADTR’s latest effort, entitled Bad Vibrations, an album which unfortunately begins with three of the most lacklustre and uninspired songs the band have penned in their whole career. Opener “In Florida” and its successor “Negative space” may both be easy to listen to, but they’re almost too easy. McKinnon’s dulcet, almost charming vocals are non-existent here as he almost warbles his way through the lyrics, and accompanied by a rhythm section which frankly plays it very safe indeed, the first two songs suddenly seem like filler material. Even the third song, “Same About You”, favours the poppier side of the band’s repertoire all too often as there’s literally no indication of the band attempting to truly explode out of the monotone musicianship. That said, all three songs are utterly hook-laden and definitely do what every pop punk band you love is expected of them. However, in the past ADTR took it upon themselves to step beyond such limitations, and these three aforementioned songs are absolutely the opposite of that idea.
Then the album really sets foot into creative and commercial success. “We Got This” is more upbeat than its predecessors, “Justified” is the first cut from the album to feature McKinnon’s bitter post-hardcore-style vocal delivery and “Naivety” parodies the very idea that ADTR are now essentially a ‘veteran’ band of their style. Far from it of course, because these three songs alone blow the album’s faltering first footsteps out of the water. Whether or not the band decided they were sounding a bit too soft or gentle isn’t apparent here, but surely something has worked in the songwriting department to have made Bad Vibrations so engaging all of a sudden. These surprisingly turnaround moments continue: “Reassemble” is definitely the most aggressive song ADTR have collectively performed since “2nd Sucks” from What Separates Me from You, “Turn Off the Radio” brings a more balanced side of the band’s repertoire to great effect, and the title track strongly resembles the more youthful exuberance of the band’s heyday, back when “The Downfall of Us All” was hitting the airwaves and charging ADTR to the very top of their league.
However, there are certainly moments here where it seems ADTR have long since stepped out of their “fun” era, and the majority of Bad Vibrations is definitively maturer than the band have been in the past. Common Courtesy may have hinted at this sudden realisation the band are taking themselves a little more seriously than usual, but Bad Vibrations is the stopcock on that fact. It’s not a bad thing, but fans of the band’s more comedic and parodic material will find this record a little harder to take in. That said, Bad Vibrations is essentially A Day to Remember climbing back up to a well-deserved success.
Released: September 2nd, 2016
- In Florida
- Negative Space
- Bad Vibrations
- We Got This
- Same About You
- Turn Off the Radio
- Forgive and Forget