The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus: Don’t You Fake It Review

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus is as close to post-hardcore without the screaming as it gets. With the band’s debut album Don’t You Fake It, frontman Ronnie Winters displays a knack for both throatily-piercing screams and strained clean vocals, but the hoarse unclean vocals make an appearance sparingly, which means this unique brand of emo rock isn’t too heavy or too light. Blazing guitar riffs, impressive drumming and Winter’s ever-fluctuating vocals provide the groundwork for a solid album, but engaging songwriting and lyricism elevates it to another level. Whether introspective or confrontational, Winters delves into a number of issues, bringing aggression and angst when necessary, but ultimately settling on overarching themes of hope and encouragement. The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus isn’t the most creative or talented band the genre has ever seen, but they certainly have enough verve and enjoyability going for them to be a solid addition to any rock music lover’s collection.

Standout Tracks

The iconic “Face Down” put The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus on the map, blasting through the airwaves for years with its passionate message against abusive relationships. Duke Kitchens’ central melodic guitar riff and Elias Reidy’s accompanying electric tinge join Jon Wilkes’ upbeat drumming to give the song zest, while Winter’s hits all the high notes as he cautions during each catchy chorus, “Do you feel like a man, when you push her around? / Do you feel better now, as she falls to the ground? / Well I’ll tell you my friend, one day this world’s going to end / As your lies crumble down, a new life she has found.” Between Winter’s strained vocals, animated guitar riffs and the urgent point of the song, “Face Down” stands out at the band’s most memorable track and the best Don’t You Fake It has to offer.

“Atrophy” gives a look at The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus’ heavier post-hardcore sound, delivering the most prevalent unclean vocals of the album mixed with fast-paced guitar chugging and pounding drums. Joey Westwood’s underlying bass provides the backbone for this power chord-heavy rocker as Winter’s vocals fluctuate between soft coos and impassioned wails, giving the song an edge shown best by the climactic vocal counterpoint that closes it out.

Changing things up again, “Your Guardian Angel” joins “Cat And Mouse” as a reflective and heartfelt ballad that speaks volumes about this band’s versatility. As acoustic guitar builds into heavier riffs and hard drumming, Winter’s softer vocals shift gears into profound and genuine wails to convey the sincere emotion echoed throughout the song: “I will never let you fall / I’ll stand up with you forever / I’ll be there for you through it all / Even if saving you sends me to heaven.”

The Verdict

From the hard-hitting leadoff track “In Fate’s Hands” to the epic closer “Grim Goodbye,” The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus presents a heavy, diverse and satisfying debut with Don’t You Fake It. The punk rock nature of “Damn Regret” somehow meshes well with the harder “Misery Loves Its Company” on the same album, making a statement about this group’s versatility and musical eclecticism within the genre. The post-hardcore influences give songs more kick, but don’t overpower or overwhelm by taking away from gifted songwriting and excellent composition. Fans of Story Of The Year, Hawthorne Heights, Silverstein, Yellowcard, Saosin, The All-American Rejects, Mayday Parade, Alesana and Taking Back Sunday should be right at home with Winter’s strained vocals. They may not appeal to everyone, but for those who can appreciate the fluctuating subtleties of his voice, listening to the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus is a no-brainer.

Final Score: 8.7/10

Rank: 1st (three total albums)

Track List

  1. In Fate’s Hands
  2. Waiting
  3. False Pretense
  4. Face Down
  5. Misery Loves Its Company
  6. Cat And Mouse
  7. Damn Regret
  8. Atrophy
  9. Seventeen Ain’t So Sweet
  10. Justify
  11. Your Guardian Angel
  12. Grim Goodbye

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