Four Year Strong-In Some Way, Shape, Or Form
Four Year Strong took the world pretty much by storm last year with the release of the brilliant 'Enemy of the World', an album that was as consistent as the bullet train and never failed to put a smile on the face of anyone who listened to it. 2011 has been a year of change then for the Massachusetts bruisers, shedding keyboard player Josh Lyford and therefore morphing their sound into an altogether more serious and heavier beast in the absence of his euphoric keyboards. 'In Some Way, Shape, or Form' is the result of this change and finds the band reaching a contentious crossroads in their career.
Lead single 'Stuck in the Middle' is one of the best songs of 2011 with its killer chorus of total defiance and ever-brilliant dual-vocal/twin-guitar attack of frontmen Dan O'Connor and Alan Day, the song feeling perfectly crafted with a huge amount going on yet remaining an undeniably knock-out tune. 'Fight The Future' is another highlight that reminds of the Foo Fighters' classic "The Colour And The Shape" album, a heavy yet totally melodic riff kicking the song straight into the stratosphere while 'Fairweather Fan' merges a heavy as fuck attitude with a chorus to die for brilliantly. The album as a whole is however a slightly uneven one, the riffs and cohesion between the band as members are great with many of the album's verses hitting like knock-out punches in the boxing ring but the aspect frustratingly lacking from a good chunk of the album's songs is the band's once undeniable signature move: the choruses. They're all there but most just don't hit as hard or as joyously as the likes of 'Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)' or 'Find My Way Back', they're decent just not spectacular. In all honesty 'Stuck in the Middle' and 'Fairweather Fan' are the only moments where they reach this original level of quality. Perhaps it's just that the bar has been set so high by this album's predecessor or maybe it's that in their determined re-shuffle as a band they've lost an element of fun within their music.
This is a decent effort from a great band but one that only has moments of brilliance as opposed to being that way all the way across the board.