Review : Forever the Sickest Kids - Forever the Sickest Kids
SputnikmusicWhen singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens announced his "Fifty States Project" in 2003, music pundits worldwide hailed it as the most ambitious concept ever to grace the music industry. First there was 'Michigan' and then 'Illinois', but that is where Stevens stopped. Surely it could not have been difficult to conjure up an album on Utah; Mountains, Mormons and the Jazz falling short should have been sufficient fodder. Come 2009, it seemed that such an enterprise would be matched by Texan pop-punkers Forever the Sickest Kids, who decided to shoot for the stars by recording EPs dedicated to (insert drum roll here) "The Weekend". And because they were so giving, they would even include Friday! Unfortunately, these kids couldn't even get past Friday night, with a 'Hip Hop Chick' and 'Hawkbot' stopping them in their tracks. Oh well, at least they got 33% of the way through, where-as Sufjan only completed 4%.
For those unaware, Forever the Sickest Kids is a band that is really easy to hate. It's all there; hair product, goofy looks, bad fashion, derivative music & cringe-worthy lyrics aimed at teenagers. Yet, their debut LP 'Underdog Alma Mater' was ultimately a success. Filled with fun, catchy, bright & bouncy hooks, they redefined the art of being a guilty pleasure into being a shameful delight! Critics knew it would not be long until they slipped up and maybe it was best the Texans did so on an ill-fated trilogy of EPs, as it would serve as the required wake-up call heading into their all-important second album. As it turns out, the resultant self-titled release predictably attempts - and fulfills - to combine the best of both worlds, without falling to any treacherous lows.
Opening up strongly with lead single 'Keep on Bringing Me Down' and 'I Guess You Can Say Things are Getting Pretty Serious', false hope is given that the band may be able to emulate their previous surprising consistency. Containing a nice blend of what they do best - without taking any element too far - the opener utilizes an effective piano loop, prominent guitar and gang vocals, while the following cut showcases the group's multiple vocalists and ability to sincerely perform the fundamentally cliched lyrical theme of "We're at a crossroad because we're better friends than lovers". Most importantly however, both tracks are catchy, without fully succumbing to outright pop; the integral ingredient in the Kids' prior success....full text
AbsolutepunkForever the Sickest Kids have been up and down quite a few hills within the past quick four years. Their freshmen EP, Television Off, Party On, turned heads due to the techno-backed poppy hooks and choruses. Following this suit, the band’s debut record Underdog Alma Mater proved to be of great success in 2008. The record earned FTSK radio play, and ultimately a widespread mass of fans as well as signing to a major label (Universal Motown). However, the downside followed with The Weekend: Friday. After deciding to create a three part set of weekend EPs, FTSK began with Friday, an extreme downgrade and disappointment, as it appeared the band felt they were in high school.
Thankfully, the continuation of the aforementioned EPs was stopped, and now the Sickest Kids are back with Forever the Sickest Kids. This record – with the majority of it presenting the handiwork of David Bendeth, who produced half the tracks – is a mix of both Underdog and Friday. However, although the opening “Keep On Bringing Me Down” and select other tracks channel the former record, inspiring hope that FTSK are back on a good note, the rest of the record channels more of the latter, regrettably.
Both the opener and “I Guess You Can Say Things Are Getting Pretty Serious” are high-voltage pop tunes, driven by Jonathan Cook’s addictive vocals and the distorted guitars Caleb Turman and Marc Stewart. In this way, these tracks begin the record on a high note, leaving the listener bouncing around to these poppy cravings. The infatuation stops short, however, as the following “Life Of The Party” is littered with auto-tune, electronic drums, and synth over dosage. The result: arguably one of the worst songs FTSK have ever penned, channeling Good Morning Revival-era Good Charlotte, which is never a good thing. Similarly, the later “Same Dumb Excuse (Nothing To Lose)” is dreadful, with Cook trying to go for high notes through an electronic guitar session....full text
AltpressThe Weekend: Saturday and The Weekend: Sunday. The group quickly abandoned this path after Friday sank under the weight of its kitschy, clumsy lyrics and gallons of Auto-Tuned vocals. The band have thankfully corrected course for their self-titled sophomore full-length, but Forever The Sickest Kids is still a frustrating listen at times.
On one hand, FTSK are obviously skilled at writing picture-perfect uptempo pop-punk: “Keep On Bringing Me Down” might be their best song since 2008’s Underdog Alma Mater, and the pogo-ready “Summer Song” and “Bipolar Baby!” are breezy, ebullient swaths of feel-good pop-rock. But when the quintet (keyboardist Kent Garrison tendered his resignation earlier this year) veer into more electronic, dancey territory (“Life Of The Party,” “Robots & Aliens”), things lose steam quickly.
Still, these moments are both less frequent and off-putting than on previous releases, showcasing a significant amount of songwriting streamlining and restraint. And let’s be honest: No one listens to Forever The Sickest Kids in hopes of absorbing lyrical life lessons. You get the feeling the band members are the sort of guys who show up to weddings in Nike Dunks and have a collective Peter Pan complex larger than their home state of Texas, but there are genuine attempts at introspection (“Keep On Bringing Me Down,” “What Happened To Emotion? (Killing Me)”) that surface every so often amid the sea of puppy-love one-liners and show hope for a more mature effort next time around. It’s almost as if the band are finally phasing out the electronic and sophomoric elements of their sound and using Forever The Sickest Kids as a bridge record to bigger and better things....full text
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