A Day To Remember is a pop-punk/hardcore band that has found the elusive formula for balancing the harder and lighter elements of their music, making a large portion of their music accessible to both casual music-goers and hard rock fans. In their first commercially successful release, For Those Who Have Heart, as well as in the even more popular follow-up Homesick, the band found a large fan base because of the unique manner in which they mixed hardcore and screamo elements with catchy punk rock.
What Separates Me From You departs from the former balance that leaned closer to hardcore and heads further into pop punk territory. Some fans may be disgruntled (at the very least) by this move, but A Day To Remember’s newest release is a very good album from beginning to end. Four of the new album’s ten tracks are hard, which is sure to be a disappointment to hard rock fans, but simply chalking it up to the band “selling out” would be narrow-minded. What Separates Me From You deserves its share of attention from fans, even if it isn’t the headbanger they might have been hoping for.
“Sticks & Bricks” might mislead fans about the direction of the new album because of the heavy screaming from lead singer Jeremy McKinnon that comprises the verses and the pounding drums from Alex Shelnutt. The style of guitar switches almost seamlessly from severe breakdown material in the verses to catchy pop punk schemes that turn the chorus into a very appealing sing-along. McKinnon’s vocals are solid when it comes to both the clean and harsh vocals. Kevin Skaff, Neil Westfall and Joshua Woodard all do outstanding jobs changing the pace from hard and heavy to moderate and poppy on lead guitar, rhythm guitar and bass, respectively.
“All I Want” was the first song leaked from the new album, and with good reason. This song is the best A Day To Remember has to offer as far as balancing hardcore and pop punk goes, and it is also the best song on the album. The chorus represents the band at its most appealing, and the upbeat drums and background vocals lend to any listener’s urge to sing along. Hardcore fans will not be disappointed either, as the vocals tiptoe the line between singing and screaming throughout until the song escalates into the song’s heavy crescendo for the last 30 seconds. This anthem perfectly displays the band’s ability to mix pop punk and hardcore elements, and remarkable lyrics make it a slightly inspiring song: “All I want is a place to call my own, to mend the hearts of everyone who feels alone, whoa you know to keep your hopes up high and your head down low.” The music video is pretty stylish and features some guest appearances from other rockers too.
“2nd Sucks” was the second song leaked from the album, but contrary to this fact, this song does not suck. In fact, this song is the best heavy song on the album, and will temporarily appease fans crying out for harder material. This track begins with a sweet intro with Mortal Kombat’s “Fight,” and includes continuous screaming, great lyrics (including an awesome section where the song slows down and breaks off in the middle of McKinnon’s confrontational “just get the f**k over it”), and a few intense breakdowns. If you are looking for A Day To Remember’s hardcore side, start here.
“All Signs Point To Lauderdale” is the polar opposite of “2nd Sucks,” displaying the band’s pop punk side. The song is very relatable and likable due to some spunky guitar work and an amusing and appealing chorus of “I hate this town, it’s so washed up, and all my friends don’t give a f**k; don’t tell me that it’s just bad luck, when will I find where I fit in?” All these elements combine to give the song a hopeful feel in the vein of Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle,” even if it might be a tad bit more profane.
“You Be Tails, I’ll Be Sonic” does a decent job of complementing the heavy verses with a lighter chorus, translating into a song hardcore and pop punk fans can appreciate and enjoy. A killer breakdown in the middle of the song will make heavy rock fans happy without deterring the more casual fans because of yet another catchy chorus, as well as the upbeat conclusion.
What Separates Me From You might not be the headbanging and thrashing album fans were hoping for, but losing hope in this band would be a grave mistake. The other songs on the album are very good for what they are, and even if four heavy songs are not enough to hold fans over until the next release, I have no doubt that A Day To Remember will continue to make consistently good music. Fans of Silverstein, Four Year Strong, We Came As Romans and Senses Fail will enjoy and even though I prefer the harder elements of their music to the lighter side as well, that doesn’t mean fans should completely overlook this entry in the band’s discography, because if they do, they’ll be missing out.
Final Score: 7/10
Rank: 3rd (four total albums)
- Sticks & Bricks
- All I Want
- It’s Complicated
- This Is The House That Doubt Built
- 2nd Sucks
- Better Off This Way
- All Signs Point To Lauderdale
- You Be Tails, I’ll Be Sonic
- Out Of Time
- If I Leave