Ocala’s best export A Day To Remember were clearly knocked by the situation with Victory Records and had visibly lost their way with a far softer 2013 effort Common Courtesy. 2016 seems to be their year though, and Bad Vibrations shows the five-piece clearly have their mojo back.
First single Paranoia was a shock for most people when it premiered on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 show earlier in the year and it was clear from then on that any upcoming album was going to be going hard. They even lied then that this album would exist, before the release of second single Bad Vibrations which solidified the album identity in the minds of the fanbase.
In keeping with their old styling, We Got This sounds just like a natural progression from (Attack Of The Killer B-Sides opening track) Right Where You Want Me To Be with the styling and writing and could have come from the middle of Common Courtesy with it’s pop hook and laid-back feel. This is furthered on Same About You, though that has a radio rock section with one of the most dynamic guitar solo pieces ADTR have done through recent years.
Arguably the best track on the record comes in the form of Naivety, as it displays the melodic powers of the band as they blast through emotive lyrics with aplomb. The track has a solid chugging rhythm & bass and the drums are cymbal heavy but mixed with lowered levels of them to keep the track grounded in the gritty lyrical content and roughness. The other contestant for the title is the fourth track Exposed, which is start to finish a rough and ready rock song with a huge heavy riff and no solo clean vocals whatsoever, not to mention an absolutely gargantuan breakdown. If the chorus was not there with the huge gang vocal it could have been any old band who wrote it, yet this band’s styling on their tracks combines the sections in a way only they can.
Stylistically, the seventh full-length instalment into the A Day To Remember catalogue is very much reminiscent of 2009’s Homesick in that it juxtaposes the heaviness the band can put together with catchy pop punk hooks that provide real stickability in the listeners’ mind. The band seem far more comfortable in this style now having taken a break from it to make some more pop punk-focussed tracks on Common Courtesy.
As a direct result of that style returning to tradition leads to the vocal style reverting to the old growling/distortion/clean combination that frontman Jeremy McKinnon has mastered over his years with the band. Each track has different ratios of the three types of vocal displayed and the balance is used to effectively cover the lyrical material.
Overall then, A Day To Remember have made a serious statement coming back with Bad Vibrations. It will forever act as the biggest “screw you” to a label of any modern band as it plays the role of being the first planned record on their own label. There isn’t a bad track on the whole record and it will be interesting to see how these new songs fare on the road.