Four Year Strong has been my favorite band in the universe pretty much since the day I discovered them, back in fall of 2007. They are one of the pioneers of this new wave of “hardcore pop punk” music. After they released Rise or Die Trying, literally hundreds of copycat bands would pop up, trying to write heavy songs with breakdowns, yet maintain the sugary sweet melodies… yet none of them could quite pull it off like these guys did.
In Some Way, Shape, Or Form is already their fourth full length studio album, and it’s much different than anything else they’ve ever done. But let’s backtrack a little. Back in April, their synth player Josh Lyford was asked to leave the band, as the other four members had decided to go in a different direction musically. This caused lots of uproar on the internet, as he was one of the main reasons their live shows were so fun and was one of the more popular members of the group. Then we heard that the new album was going to be more in the realm of “alt rock”, which turned off a lot of people, even their hardcore fans.
Four of the album’s twelve songs were actually out prior to the official release of the album. Things started with live performances of a new song called “Falling On You” popping up on YouTube. Even though it wasn’t a studio version, the song absolutely killed it. Hard and fast with one of my favorite choruses on the album. Then they released “Stuck In The Middle”, which is the most radio rock song they’ve ever written up to this point. People started calling them Foo Year Strong because of it’s resemblance to something the Foo Fighters would put out. There’s even some very Dave Grohl-ish screams on this. Ultimately its a really catchy song that I thought got a lot of unnecessary hate.
The alt.-rock comparisons don’t stop there. The first music video from the album came with “Just Drive”, one of the darker songs the band has written. It sounds a lot like a Chevelle song, especially the guitar in the chorus. This one took a while to grow on me, but now I absolutely love it. “Fairweather Fan” was ANOTHER song they released (and made a video for) before the album came out. As you’d guess, the song is about fans who were hopping off the Four Year Strong “bandwagon” so to speak, just because they tried something different. They’re still the same band, writing music because they love to do it. It’s one of the heavier songs on the album. It’s chorus is a little all over the place, but generally it’s pretty good.
The album opens with one of the better songs on the album, “The Infected”. Really heavy song that should go over live. “The Security of the Familiar, The Tranquility of Repetition” is a song that really grew on me… a very “bouncy” chorus that will get the crowd off their feet.
The middle portion of the album has some skippable tracks, such as “Sweet Kerosene” and “Heaven Wasn’t Built To Hold Me” (they’re attempt at making some sort of arena rock song that just comes off as a dud).
“Unbreakable” and “Fight The Future” are two simple songs that manage to standout because of awesome hooks.
The last song titled “Only The Meek Get Pinched, The Bold Survive” features the first piano and guitar soloing we’ve ever heard on a Four Year Strong song. I like how they’re showcasing they’re musical talents, but these types of ballady songs from this band will be something to get used to.
Overall, I would agree with the majority and say that this is their “worst” record, but it’s not bad by any means. I will always support this band since I always have. People say this is their “sellout” album, I just don’t see it that way. These guys are way too honest in their music to just change their style to cater to larger crowds.
Music video for “Just Drive”: