Mayday Parade thrilled and dazzled with one of the most enjoyable and profound pop punk albums in the history of the genre when they released their debut A Lesson In Romantics. Appealing dual vocals, fun but compelling lyrics and an infectious pop punk energy surged through the band’s highly enjoyable first album, making it an instant classic that raised the bar for all other pop punk acts to be judged by. So when vocalist, lyricist and guitarist Jason Lancaster (now of Go Radio) wasn’t getting credit for his contributions and left the band, there were serious concerns about what direction Mayday Parade would take without him. Would they be able to continue the same lovable brand of pop punk? Or would they succumb to Lancaster’s absence, turning in a product with dumbed-down lyrics and a less-than-enthralling singular vocals? Unfortunately, Anywhere But Here leans more toward the latter, barely getting by on the appeal of Derek Sanders’ voice and proficient guitar riffs and drumming. But although it comes nowhere near touching A Lesson In Romantics, this sophomore slump is a good album by its own right. In short, it’s about as good as Mayday Parade could be without Lancaster as they adjusted to making music without him.
While Sanders dominates the vocals for an entire record with the attractive dual vocals dimension gone, songs like “Anywhere But Here” show just how dynamic he can be as a lead singer. His pitch-perfect wailing lends itself to the agreeable whine of Alex Garcia’s guitar, while Brook Bettts backs them up with skilled rhythm guitar. Jake Bundrick’s steady drumming is as consistent as ever, but Sanders steals the show as he nails every chorus in this serious but fun title track.
Like the preceding track, “The Silence” offers a more dramatic take on Mayday Parade as epic guitar riffs, pensive drumming and Sanders’ urgent but composed singing builds up the tension of each verse before igniting in each stirring chorus. Despite their ambiguous nature, the lyrics of “The Silence” are probably the pinnacle of songwriting on Anywhere But Here, reflecting the drama of each guitar riff, drum beat and wail from Sanders, who proclaims, “Every night she cries and dies a little more each time / Say you love me / Nothing left inside, say you love me / And the silence will set her free.”
A Lesson In Romantics provided a large number of upbeat and happy songs, but what elevated it to another level was a collection of heartfelt and genuine ballads, an area that feels slightly lackluster on Anywhere But Here. However, “I Swear, This Time I Mean It,” the album’s only ballad, is a decent effort with enough emotion and sincerity to warrant some attention. Acoustic guitar, intelligent lyrics and Sanders’ silky smooth voice is all it takes here, and although it’s not flashy by any means, “I Swear, This Time I Mean It” shows that Mayday Parade isn’t completely lost without Lancaster around.
Although Anywhere But Here is catchy and entertaining, it certainly plays it safe and never presents anything new. While infectious songs like “Kids In Love” lend themselves to Mayday Parade’s greatest hits, the downright monotony of dumbed-down songs aiming for mass appeal like “Get Up” are almost sickening compared to the elite lyricism of the past. The emphasis on more blazing guitar riffs to deflect the attention away from Lancaster’s glaring absence is successful at times, like for an incredible guitar solo on the blistering “If You Can’t Live Without Me, Then Why Aren’t You Dead Yet?”. Fans of Go Radio, Every Avenue, All Time Low, The Maine, Forever The Sickest Kids, The Summer Set and A Rocket To The Moon can still enjoy this Mayday Parade outing. Because even though it won’t compare to A Lesson In Romantics, it’s still a decent album that gives hope for improvement in the future.
Final Score: 6.9/10
Rank: 3rd (three total albums)
- Kids In Love
- Anywhere But Here
- The Silence
- Still Breathing
- Bruised And Scarred
- If You Can’t Live Without Me, Why Aren’t You Dead Yet?
- Save Your Heart
- Get Up
- Center Of Attention
- I Swear, This Time I Mean It
- The End