The art of mixing heavy screams and brutal breakdowns with lighter choruses and clean vocals isn’t new, but the style of A Day To Remember certainly pushes that blend to new limits. In the case of Homesick, the band’s third album that proved to be their breakthrough work, a seemingly unconventional mix of post-hardcore and pop punk has never been closer to perfection. Seamlessly shifting from intense and aggressive breakdowns to amiable and infectious choruses, A Day To Remember shows incredible artistic skill in their ability to combine two opposing genres into one enjoyable listening experience. There is something for everyone on Homesick, from hardcore screamo fans to avid pop punk followers. Lead vocalist Jeremy McKinnon is the centerpiece of ADTR, showcasing the same skill as his band in balancing the heavy and light elements as he transitions from throaty growls to clear-cut, clean vocals in the blink of an eye. A Day To Remember didn’t invent this balance of hard and soft rock influences, but they certainly expanded it to new heights with the thoroughly phenomenal Homesick.
“My Life For Hire” displays the prowess of Tom Denny’s guitar and Neil Westfall’s rhythm guitar as A Day To Remember delivers the best song of Homesick. Following the rambunctiously fun opener, this second track takes a more serious approach as McKinnon’s clean vocals quickly turn into a guttural growl of “This is a battleground!” to give way to one of many impressively aggressive bridge breakdowns. The mix of pop punk choruses and more intense verses is a typical ADTR trait and this song demonstrates it best.
“I’m Made Of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?” features one of the catchiest and simultaneously epic choruses on the album, transitioning from an upbeat tempo to a slowed-down breakdown capable of appeasing any hardcore fan. The pop punk side of ADTR shines on this memorable chorus, but the band also gives listeners a taste of their talent in crafting unforgettable breakdowns.
A Day To Remember’s blend of post-hardcore and pop punk leaves a lot of room for variety, shown best by the hit “Have Faith In Me,” which gives a glimpse at the band’s softer and more heartfelt side (not seen again until the genuine ballad “If It Means A Lot To You”). McKinnon’s voice falls to delicately soft vocals in the verses, displaying another side to his already impressive vocal range. Josh Woodard’s soft bass sets up the emotion while the steady rata-tat of Alex Shelnutt’s drums in the background builds it up into yet another head-bobbing chorus. McKninnon is the star of this show however, dominating this lighter ballad with sincere vows of “Have faith in me / I said I’d never let you go and I never did / I said I’d never let you fall and I always meant it / If you never had a chance then I never did / You’ll always find me right there again.”
The release of Homesick is what put A Day To Remember on the map, and rightfully so. At their best, they are innovators of this combined genre. At the very least, ADTR is an enjoyable hybrid of multiple rock influences. People opposed to music with screaming are usually turned off as soon as the first unclean vocalist lets one loose, but from the opening group chant on “The Downfall Of Us” it becomes immediately clear you’d be hard-pressed to find a band as enjoyable and easily accessible as A Day To Remember. They certainly prove they know how to bring the aggression and brutality of the post-hardcore genre with heavy breakdowns that are sure to get any mosh pit moving (see “Mr. Highway’s Thinking About The End”). But with Homesick, the band shows incredible dexterity and skill in weaving the post-hardcore elements in and out of their pop punk side to create a breakthrough album that will appease hardcore junkies and the more easy-going crowd alike. Fans of Four Year Strong, Asking Alexandria, Close To Home, Silverstein, We Came As Romans, Sleeping With Sirens, Of Mice & Men, Close Your Eyes, Attack Attack! and The Devil Wears Prada will all find a breakdown or two to remember here, even with the pop punk influence sprinkled in. Because when it comes down to it, A Day To Remember helped create this new and emerging sub-genre, and with music as enjoyable and genuine as this, it’s no wonder other bands are following suit.
Final Score: 8.5/10
Rank: 1st (four total albums)
- The Downfall Of Us All
- My Life For Hire
- I’m Made Of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?
- NJ Legion Iced Tea
- Mr. Highway’s Thinking About The End
- Have Faith In Me
- Welcome To The Family
- Holdin’ It Down For The Underground
- You Already Know What You Are
- Another Song About The Weekend
- If It Means A Lot To You