Release Date: Nov 8, 2011
Record label: Motown
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Post-Hardcore, Punk/New Wave, Hardcore Punk, Emo-Pop, Punk-Pop
Four Year Strong show that growing up can be tricky on their fourth album, In Some Way, Shape, or Form. For the newly minted quartet, growing up involves cutting the synthesizers out of the mix, and it’s a change that finds the band returning as a tighter, more serious-sounding unit. One of Four Year Strong’s most charming elements was their infectious pop energy, a feeling that came through their music even as they pushed it in an increasingly hardcore-influenced direction.
“We live in a time bomb that’s ticking down” begins the lead single “Just Drive” off Four Year Strong’s fourth album (and second in 18 months) In Some Way, Shape, Or Form and it can easily be seen as a comment on the lifespan of hardcore (emo-core, whatever you want to call it) bands as it could be seen as anything else. Glassjaw disappeared for half a decade, and Brand New and Thrice never lived up to the worlds of both commercial and creative potential behind their initial albums. Is there a real flag-bearer for the genre at the moment? It would seem that a lot of people are backing the Worcester, Mass., quartet (after the departure of keyboard whiz Josh Lyford earlier this year) as hardcore’s “Next Big Thing”.
This review originally ran in AP 281. “We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again,” holler the members of Four Year Strong in a powerful gang vocal, “Rise or die trying.” That lyric, from the punky “Fairweather Fan,” has been FYS’ motto for years, as well as the title of their 2007 breakthrough album. It’s also their way of saying, “Either you’re with us or you’re against us.” The surprisingly chameleonic Worcester, Massachusetts, quartet have yet to rest on their laurels or duplicate past successes, and that trend continues with In Some Way, Shape, Or Form., an album sure to turn off as many old FYS fans as it is to attract new ones in their place.