Have a listen to 'Go Down in History'
Four Year Strong – Some Of You Will Like This, Some Of You Won’t
Release Date: 8th September 2017
Pure Noise Records
The title of this album gives you all of the information that you really need. No? OK, but it is definitely the most honest interpretation of a body of work that I have ever seen. It is easily the most surprised I have ever been by a twelve track album. That is what you get for not reading the small print, and relying on digital formats to deliver your music, you don’t pay attention to the album cover work.
This album is a reworking of a number of Four Year Strong’s tracks, as well as unheard originals from the band. This is not something that you should approach with your usual burst of wary confidence, the leaping, moshing and drunk shout alongs that you would expect from their previous releases and gigs are forgotten in favour of a mostly acoustic approach to these tracks.
There is something impressive about any band that undertakes a re-imagining of their tracks, especially one with a following as reliable as Four Year Strong, and with this they are making a very ballsy move. I would liken it to the Foo Fighters‘ ‘Skin and Bones’ album in that no one was expecting it and it is a fucking triumph
As the name of the album suggests the band are not expecting universal praise or condemnation for their actions and realise that the reviews and reactions will be a mixed bag. What struck me most was that the songs themselves in their different arrangements and very different deliveries show a much overlooked aspect to the bands song writing skills as well as showing further range in the vocal delivery that is on show.
When it comes to rocking a gig there can be a lot covered up in distortion and vocals being drowned out by the other instruments and the crowd themselves, as well as the beer and any other intoxicants that may be floating around. With and acoustic album you are very much leaving yourself naked to the elements with regard criticism of everything you offer.
In this regard, Four Year Strong deliver in a manner that took me back. The vocals and the song writing are spectacular and presented in a way that is hard to ignore, or in some cases believe that this could be the same band. I have to admit that before being asked to write this review I was not the most hardened of Four Year Strong fans, I have seen them live a couple of times and been very impressed, however this album has won me over to a new extent.
And therein may be the crux of the matter. This album will undoubtedly bring in new fans to the band, who will hopefully enjoy the previous releases just as much. However, as expected by the band themselves, the new converts may have serious doubts about previous releases. As for casual fans such as myself there is a definite reconnection with tracks that I have heard before as well as with those that were brand new to me, they may or may not all be new tracks, it is very difficult to recognise the older stuff on this album as a result of the new approach. At least to someone who is very much interested in the band in passing rather than balls deep in Four Year Strong fandom.
The effect of the album is a much more mellow attack on the songs, the vocals are echoed and there are a few harmonies thrown about with such ease, and fitting together so naturally you would think that this was the normal state of affairs. The tracks, although mostly acoustic, are certainly more atmospheric and draw you in as a result. As someone who bangs on and on relentlessly about an ‘atmosphere’ on a record it is something that stands out hard for me.
Again it is in the quality of the songwriting that the strengths of this album lie. In taking away all of the distortion, the drive and the “in your face” rock of the situation you are forced to sit back and look at these tracks on more than a surface level and by the end of it you feel a much stronger connection to the band. At least that was my experience. Where previously they had been just a guaranteed good night out, now there is a need to listen further and experience these tracks in their original presentation to see if they strike the same chord with me. There is also a feeling that I need to revisit the other tracks that haven’t been reworked as I feel that there is clearly something in there that I might have missed previously. Whether it is lyrically or in the complexity of the guitars or just the overall effect of the tracks themselves.
‘Some Of You Will Like This, Some Of You Won’t’ is a statement by the band themselves that they are more than what they have presented so far and that they are capable of much more complex and nuanced production than they have been, or at least they are able to make these skills a great deal more obvious and approachable. While previous albums have been great road or gym music they were always very much in the background. This album is an experience that forces you to consider the band in a new light and definitely up the desire to hear more from them. The dynamics of their live performances will surely be changed as a result of this album, hopefully they will tour this specifically but if not I am a sure thing if their tour rolls past me any time in the future.
For fans of: Foo Fighters, Gaslight Anthem