Four Year Strong - In Some Way
Album Review

Four Year Strong – In Some Way, Shape Or Form.

When this band released Enemy Of The World back in early 2010, they were heralded as being the saviours of pop-punk. Which, lets be honest, at the time could have very well been true. Enemy Of The World was the definitive summer album of 2010, with upbeat tracks that left the listener wanting more.

That ‘more’ has come in the form of their latest offering, In Some Way, Shape Or Form. And, while many were hoping for Enemy Of The World part 2, the band did state that what they were recording was very different to what they’ve released before. So, you can’t say we warned.

What they did offer us was, in fact, a bit less punk than what most would have expected, in fact going for a more alt-rock sound. In Some Way, Shape Or Form (ISWSOF), the first album released following the departure of keyboard player josh Lyford, see’s the group tackling a more mature sound, no longer utilising Lyford’s synthesizers.

But, is it a good move? I think so. Although the album will shock some hardcore fans, to the point that they may lose interest in the “saviours of pop-punk”, it does leave a good taste in your mouth. Album opener, The Infected, is a blistering track setting up the mood of the 11 songs to follow.

Keeping with the usual to-and-fro of vocals from Alan Day and Dan O’Connor, a feature in Four Year Strong’s back catalogue always used to their advantage, there is some similarity to there older stuff. Lyrically, it isn’t as up-beat as previous efforts. Indeed, they use some songs to combat some issues the band have dealt with.

The fifth track, aptly titled Fairweather Fan, attacks those fans who have lost interest over time, and praises those who have been with the band since the beginning. Ironically, this album may lose more of that fanbase than any of their previous albums.

That said, the track mentioned, while seeming to look to the future, does have a moment of grasping the past with gang vocals roaring “Rise Or Die Trying”, which any fan will know is the title of their most successful and best loved album.

Although there are some good quality songs on this album, there are a few which could have been reworked. One instance of this is the closing track, Only The Meek Get Pinched. Particularly, the piano-intro to the track. And, while reworked is an option, another is removal. Four Year Strong do not need to sound like Queen, so why try?

Just Drive, while a good track, is it deservedly the best on the album? To the extent as being the lead single? I don’t think so. This 90’s inspired song, while decent, is nowhere near as powerful as some others. One song which could have been picked ahead of it is the second on the album, The Security Of The Familiar, The Tranquility Of Repetition. This song is a perfect lead in to the album, as it combines what Four Year Strong are known best for, while in keeping with the mood of ISWSOF.

While a few critics have questioned the track Sweet Kerosene, I for one enjoyed it. Especially the closing third of the track, which jumps loosely from being hard rock, almost Foo Fighters-esque, while keeping it different at the same time. Lyrically, the chorus is catchy, and the guitar breakdown towards the final chorus is something we haven’t heard from Four Year Strong before.

Another good song is Unbreakable, collectively involving both the band and fans alike in its chorus: “We are the ones to stand our ground / we are the ones who won’t back down / we are the rise but not the fall / we are the writing on the wall”, while finally culminating in the listener screaming at his laptop in unison with Day and O’Connor “We are Unbreakable”.

As the songs breakdown comes in, and the guitars are heavy and loud, we can see that Four Year Strong are capable of being more than the pop-punk band that they are best known for.

The thing is, throughout my review, I’ve used the word ‘good’. And I’ve used it a lot. But that’s the thing; ISWSOF is a good album. Not great. Not brilliant. Not Outstanding.

Now, it is by no means a bad album. If it was, I would have no problem in saying that. But it’s not bad. Just not great. Which isn’t the kind of progression, if you want to call it that, many of us would have expected. I was expecting to be blown away with ISWSOF. Is that a bad thing? Expecting too much, hoping for more? Hell, I may have hyped this album up a bit too much for myself.

But, the thing is, I’m not the only one.

Download: The Infected, The Security Of The Familiar, The Tranquility of Repetition, Unbreakable, Sweet Kerosene

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