REVIEW: Mayday Parade – Anywhere But Here

maydayArtist: Mayday Parade
Album: Anywhere But Here
Genre: Pop Rock
Label: Atlantic

What’s worse than losing your frontman? Losing your main songwriter. Just ask Mayday Parade, or, since they aren’t big on discussing what caused fellow founding member Jason Lancaster to leave shortly after recording the last record, simply hit play on the group’s near heartless second full length, Anywhere But Here, which, ironically, is exactly where many fans may wish the band’s sound went.

Now I’m aware of the harsh nature of that introduction, but that’s only because this review has been a long time coming. I, like many, jumped on the Mayday bandwagon following their delectable addition to Punk Goes Acoustic 2, but upon hearing of Lancaster’s departure, I knew there may be troubled water ahead. Then we have the extended period of wait since the album’s release [which most will claim is due to the strong sales, but without even a new demo, it’s not hard to piece together the truth], followed by the “blink and you’ll miss it” video premiere of the title track and you have yourself a recipe for disaster waiting to happen. However, I will add, it’s nowhere near the worst thing I’ve heard this year, but sometimes, you need to drop the hammer and wake the masses up to approaching cliff of mediocrity.

Kicking things off with a track that’s far too similar too about 5 The Academy Is songs, “Kids in Love” welcomes us to the record with enough heart for every pop rock Summer since Warped began. Lyrics about teen love, group vocals on the chorus, simple drumming, some light riff over the pre-chorus, yup, this is pop rock. Nothing stands out, it just hits you and you think “yup, that’s the same love story we always hear,” but for some reason, it just feels dull. We get it, you still look back and smile, but fear you won’t ever get what you want or that you missed some opportunity. We discussed this on the last release [and the EP before that]. Next!?

The album’s first single, which is also the title track, carries into what becomes a very deadpan record of forced emotions being expressed about falling tears, broken hearts, emptiness, etc. Sound like walking down a high school corridor to anyone else? The song itself has a solid structure and is musically quite appealing, but it’s the complete lack of substance in the lyrics that makes it all stay on the record. Nothing sticks with you and quickly, you realize that tracks like “The Silence,” “Bruised and Scarred,” “Center of Attention,” and “I Swear This Time I Mean It” all fall victim to this problem. Amazing beginnings, great structure, musically engaging without being too simple or complex, but the lyrics that once were scribbled on notebooks, Twitters, Myspaces, and more have seemingly been abandoned for generic metaphors and simplistic rhyme schemes. I mean, come on, how many times can someone hurting feel “like a knife”? Be creative kids, that’s what you [supposedly] do for a living.

I would like to note that it’s not all mediocrity and flat out boring songs. “If You Can’t Live Without Me, Why Aren’t You Dead Yet” has a pretty ferocious guitar solo that works amazingly well though it’s horribly out of place. Likewise, the instrumentation on “Save Your Heart” sounds like a platinum track, but something in the depth of the lyrics and the vocal delivery makes what could be an epic and emotionally provocative song seem like just another song about a girl. Actually, that’s the problem throughout the record, though there are many moments that make you go “that’s catchy,” the subject material just feels so heartless that it appears not even the band connects with it.

There isn’t a single doubt in my mind that Mayday Parade set out to make an album so great that listeners forgot about the absence of Jason Lancaster from the band’s creative process, but that isn’t the result. As Kevin Smith once said, “You don’t set out to make a flop, sometimes that’s just what happens when you put the pieces together.” Anywhere But Here comes across as a band trying to be something they no longer are and what comes across from it in the end is that they don’t even know where to go from here. The lyrics have the weight of a snowflake and though the music has moments of sheer pop brilliance, they can’t keep this ship afloat for too long.

Score: 7/10

James Shotwell
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2 Responses to “REVIEW: Mayday Parade – Anywhere But Here”

  1. MusicalMuse says:

    James is so off base. This is a really good album. And many others agree, for example,

    One of traits of a good album is it grows on you and the more you listen the better you like it. You keep finding new favorite songs and can’t get enough.

    “Anywhere but here” is that kind of album. Get it and see for yourself. Peace

  2. screamingMAYDAY says:

    James never said that this album flat out sucked. If you compare this album to Mayday’s older albums however, you can really tell that something’s lacking. This album doesn’t fit with their other stuff. And I don’t see how I could change my favorite song from this album, as most of the songs on here sound the same with an exception for 3 or 4 songs. Sure it’s catchy and it’ll grow on you, and it’ll be your favorite album…until The Maine, The Cab, or All Time Low releases a new batch of the same.