Mayday Parade is a band that might forever be defined by two time periods: the Jason Lancaster Era and the Post-Lancaster Era. Fans of Lancaster’s former band and fans of his new band Go Radio may not like it, but Mayday Parade’s work will always be compared to the masterful first album A Lesson In Romantics, which featured dual vocalists, poignant lyrics and catchy songs that were easily relatable and enjoyable. And while it looked like the band was going to flounder with Lancaster’s departure after the disappointing sophomore followup Anywhere But Here, Derek Sanders and company truly stepped up as musicians and lyricists with the release of their self-titled third album. Mayday Parade doesn’t come close to trumping the work of that memorable first album, but it does boast the return of dual vocalists, more mature songwriting and composition capable of expressing the sentiments behind the lyrics. Sanders has come a long way as a lyricist as Mayday Parade delivers twelve bluesy, pop punk songs aimed at changing perceptions about what the “Post-Lancaster Era” really means. Because as much as Mayday Parade sorely missed Lancaster on the lackluster Anywhere But Here, they’ve clearly moved on, developed an identity as a band and refined their sound for the better with Mayday Parade.
“Oh Well, Oh Well” clarifies the album’s morose-but-fun tone right away with a heartfelt confession of regret coupled with resilient hope as Sanders looks back on a past of lost love. Unintentionally mirroring the band’s struggles without Lancaster, Sanders sings of heartbreak but defiantly encourages his audience “Sit still and listen to the soundtrack / I’ll tell you how I took one straight through the heart / And it’s not easy to talk about / So we all sing.” Although Jake Bundrick provides an upbeat tempo on the drums and Alex Garcia’s lively guitar riffs drip with enthusiasm and fun, Sanders’ composed vocals directly contrast the happy mood with a somber, genuine presence.
Mayday Parade was extremely proficient at writing ballads on their debut, but that trait was non-existent on their sophomore album without Lancaster. “Stay” not only rekindles the band’s balladry fire, but also should singlehandedly restore any fan’s faith in their musicianship. This heartfelt track serves as the emotional turning point of the album in addition to being its best overall song. Between the piano, Brooks Betts’ ardently expressive rhythm guitar, bass player Jeremy Lenzo’s backup vocals, white-hot guitar riffs, and Sanders’ long and impassioned imploring, “Please stay,” Mayday Parade crafted the emotional driving force of the album.
“Call Me Hopeless, But Not Romantic” follows up “Stay” with an equally sincere ballad, but this time around, soulful guitar riffs and a more upbeat drum rhythm give the song a bluesy rock feel. Like the majority of Mayday Parade, the interplay between the two sets of emotional but composed vocals lends to the authentic nature of the song, while the blazing guitar hooks help define the album’s wonderfully melancholy tone.
While Anywhere But Here got by with its catchy gimmicks, dumbed-down lyrics and Sanders’ silky voice, the emphasis on artistry and maturity return on Mayday Parade, redeeming the band and reestablishing them as something more than just another poppy rock group. Mayday Parade’s customary catchiness is still intact, but the collaborative focus on writing better and more affecting music is apparent from the album’s opening seconds, while the reappearance of dual vocals replaces the need for Sanders to dominate every track. His pitch-perfect wailing is as appealing as ever, but in a more refined and distinguished way because of the prevailing bluesy influence. The basic subject matter and topics of love and heartbreak are clearly aimed at a younger crowd, but the manner in which they’re articulated is more intelligent and gives validity to these seemingly youthful sentiments. Fans of Go Radio, All Time Low, Every Avenue, The Maine, A Rocket To The Moon and The Summer Set will hail Mayday Parade again as a similarly mature pop punk band and find something inspired and engaging here. With its impressive composition, enhanced lyrics and sophisticated tone, Mayday Parade promises a bright future for a band that once looked like it would never be the same.
Final Score: 8.3/10
Rank: 2nd (three total albums)
- Oh Well, Oh Well
- No Heroes Allowed
- When You See My Friends
- You’re Dead Wrong
- Call Me Hopeless, But Not Romantic
- A Shot Across The Bow
- Everything’s An Illusion
- I’d Rather Make Mistakes Than Nothing At All
- Without The Bitter The Sweet Isn’t As Sweet
- Happy Endings Are Stories That Haven’t Ended Yet