Homesick makes it abundantly clear why so many people refuse to jump sides for A Day to Remember. There are 12 songs of the exact same heavy/lol-pop that can be heard onFor Those Who Have Heart or And Their Name Was Treason. Stick with your instincts; there are no true changes to the band’s sound. However, I finally realized the (probably intentional) trickery that comes packaged with ADTR records. Each one begins with a blistering fist pumper that’s more pop than “mosh.” The listener is instantly “amped” up (or whatever), and then it’s almost like the remaining 35 minutes don’t even matter. Your sated pleasure sensors easily discharge the forthcoming filler. But let’s say you skip that first song – or in this case, the first and second song – do you still have a great record? Quite confidently, I will say without this carefully planned dose of adrenaline you have a terrible f**king record. After we hear a shattering breakdown proclaiming “This is a battleground!” in second song “My Life For Hire,” the album becomes pretty skippable – save for a few (admittedly contagious) moments. If any band should just release EP’s, it’s A Day to Remember.
Trust me when I say Homesick can feel like a day lost. It becomes excessively tiring to hear what sounds like the same song – save for slightly different choruses – over and over. Maybe for a record (or even two!) this could be satisfactory. But other than doing away with the slightly creepy/sappy vibe of For Those Who Have Heart, this is essentially the same record. I won’t lie: at first, I was content. I even posted in the forums that I thought this was ADTR’s best record. Turns out I was on iTunes Shuffle and a song from FTWHHwas playing. Oops. My bad.
This is multiplayer music, so perhaps my crippling social failures make me a bad judge of Homesick. Unless you’re surrounded by bros and brews (i.e. XsodaX), prepare to feel like a fool when ADTR start gang-chanting, “This is the life we chose / This is the life I lead / They can never take this from me!” But hey!, there’s some double bass and some uplifting lyrics and hey! the song is called “NJ Legion Iced Tea” so it’s about foolin’ haters and crap! (You’re a cynical dick – Editor.)
Whether you believe it or not, I’m an optimist. I hear hope in “Have Faith in Me.” The song is very light on the screaming and very focused on the catchy chorus. True, it’s one of the simpler songs on Homesick, but at least it sounds a teensy bit different. The song is cheesy in an endearing way (“I said I’d never let you go / And I never did”). Its gang chorus accents rather than overtakes, and we leave “amped” (or whatever) in a completely different way. Sadly, the song precedes “Welcome to the Family” (featuring Vincent Bennett of The Acacia Strain), which comes across as a weak appeasement to those who were hoping for the fierceness of FTWHH.
As is their custom, ADTR have included a mostly acoustic opportunity for vocalist Jeremy McKinnon. Is he auditioning for a solo spot on Tooth & Nail? His nasally, vocally-stretched performance sounds almost too fake to handle. The “La La La’s” are so overly “mouthed” (that’s a term, right?) that you’ll need to scrub the lame off you for hours. “If It Means A Lot To You” also features a duet with Sierra Kusterbeck of VersaEmerge before eventually erupting into a gang chorus of “La La’s”, but these additions do very little to save the track.
An impressive opener like “The Downfall Of Us All” can’t hide Homesick’s disappointing truth. There’s barely enough songs for a self-made EP, and as a full length it borders on torturous redundancy. McKinnon sounds improved most of the time, but it’s hard to critique any improvements for the other musicians due to the album’s “been there” feel. Never taking any steps forward has finally crippled A Day to Remember, and a continued fear of the unknown will surely kill them.
Per Victory Records’ request, I must mention that this review was conducted using a leaked “unmastered” version of Homesick. You may now return to your regularly scheduled Blake-bashing. Thanks.