A Day To Remember
If I had to put a single word to it, I would have to say “unimpressed.” So far 2016 has been the year of outstanding record releases ranging from Architects’ All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us to Cane Hill’s debut Smile, so when A Day To Remember’s 2016 record, Bad Vibrations was announced, I was pumped. The first two singles, “Paranoia” and the title track, were instant jams, however, the rest of the record could not hold up to the high expectations I had set for it. As they say on the track “Negative Space,” “Everyone eventually lets you down,” and tragically, this time ADTR did.
Now I want to preface the rest of this review with the fact that I do not think that Bad Vibrations is a bad record. I think it’s a good record, I just think a band as big and successful as A Day To Remember could have made it so much better. There isn’t a single song on this record that could ever make it surpass the greatness of the 2009 release Homesick, and the fact that ADTR hasn’t been able to touch their success from seven years ago is a real problem. For a band that announced their intentions to take more thrash influences and stray a little farther from pop punk, it’s sad that the record rests comfortably on pop punk clichés. Everything from soft acoustic-oriented intermediate tracks (“Justified”) to upbeat forgotten youth with poor word pronunciation (“Naivety”) to slightly edgier car-driver jams (“Bullfight”) are present on this record. It leaves me asking, “Where is the heavy?” Where is that moment of “2nd Sucks” to bring you back to the forefront of brutal breakdowns successfully paired with radio friendly choruses? If anyone can find it hidden deep down in the depths of this record, please let me know.
I admire A Day To Remember for stepping away from the formula they had set up for themselves for the past several records and focusing more on an introspective of the band as a whole to come up with a slightly modified sound, but it’s just missing that punch, that edge that I found in ADTR that I love so much. Yeah, the breakdown on “Bullfight” is fantastic, but it just doesn’t round out the record enough, the same way that “Bad Vibrations” feels as if it ends too soon. Where is that third and final chorus to really just nail the tactfulness of that song into the listener’s head? Usually I love when an album leaves me wanting more, but this time, I feel like the listener actually deserves more in many of these tracks.
Listeners will hear this again and again in tracks like “Reassemble” or “Turn Off The Radio.” The tracks are solid, but Jeremy McKinnon’s vocals are just not -core enough. They feel strained, or halfhearted, like he’s trying to pull away or switch up his sound. They feel a little hollow. And then ADTR fall back on the pop punk medium again with tracks like “We Got This” and the punchless, toned down moment that is “Same About You.” I kept waiting for that cliffbanger moment and was left solely with cliffhangers.
When it comes to themes and lyricism, though, A Day To Remember are always on point. Writing “Paranoia” from the perspective of a patient and therapist is genius and the lines “I enable you/Let me down/Let me down/Like only you know how/Shut me out/Shut me out/Forgive and forget” (“Forgive and Forget”) are simplistic yet highly sophisticated.
In classic ADTR fashion, every track on this record could easily get stuck in a listener’s head, but none could stand up to the major moments on any of their prior chart-topping records. It just falls flat. Bad Vibrations is a fine record, but it could have been a phenomenal record, and just wasn’t. (Natasha Van Duser)