For Fans Of
Anytime a band self titles an album, especially when it isn’t a debut release it feels like the band are trying to make a statement. And that definitely seems to be what Mayday Parade are doing on their third full length album. This time they have cut out all the bells, whistles, sparkles, lace and over production that was found on their major label debut, 2009’s Anywhere But Here. This time around Mayday Parade have ditched the major label backing, dropped the co-writers and external influences that played a major part in the creation of their last album, and headed back into the studio with producer’s Zack Odom and Kenneth Mount. What is left is an album much closer to the sound fans initially heard on 2007’s debut, A Lesson In Romatics as they move back to the days of emotionally charged dual vocal sections carried by fun, energetic pop rock.
Lyrically, Mayday Parade have been known to focus on the longing for love and romance and a nostalgia for their youth- concepts that their audience can relate to. However, on Mayday Parade the band have taken a different approach, writing lyrics tinged with anger and bitterness, even if they are accompanied by bright, boppy pop rock instruments.
The album opens with previously released single, “Oh Well, Oh Well” and it is an immediate return to the Mayday Parade fans have been hoping to see again. It opens with a soft, delicate piano intro which highlights the gentleness of Derek Sanders‘ vocals before exploding into a fast, upbeat pop rock track. Mayday Parade made the right decision releasing this as the first single off the album because it is the perfect track to set the tone for the rest of the album.
Right from the beginning there is a huge focus on the use of dual vocals again. Really a lot of the album focuses on massive pop hooks played out through the back and forth vocals between Sanders, drummer Jake Bundrick and bassist Jeremy Lenzo. The distinct sounds in each vocalists voice adds a quality to the vocals that was missed on Anywhere But Here. Something else that has improved with the self titled release is the guitar work from both Alex Garcia and Brooks Betts. Throughout the album you can find nice, little guitar solos tucked neatly away, allowing them to get a little bit of the spotlight. The first example can be found on second track, “No Heroes Allowed”. While it opens a little shaky, the track definitely picks up as the tempo increases creating a boppy and extremely catchy track. The inclusion of string sections slightly shifts the tempo and helps to highlight the sugary sweet, cleanness of Sanders‘ vocals (not that they need to be focused on more than they already are).
Throughout the album there is a huge focus on the vocals. “When You See My Friends” utilises all three vocalists the most, swapping and changing between tempos and vocalists the whole way through. The track opens with mid tempo instruments, before the vocals come in and take the track down a few notches. The song quickly picks up in a cascade of crashing drums and guitars for the chorus, giving the other boys some room to shine.
A pattern that can be found on almost every track of the album is the song structure. Soft, almost empty instruments fill the verses, highlighting the qualities in all the vocalists voices before picking up the tempo for a big, catchy, pop-rock chorus. While this tends to get a little repetitive towards the end of the album, they do change up the formula slightly, and well no one can deny the knack Mayday Parade have for creating choruses that will get stuck in your head and force you to jump around.
“Priceless” is a prime example of a slight variation from the formula. It opens quick and upbeat before taking a step down as the vocals kick in. A simple drum beat and guitar lines carry the vocals throughout the verse before dual vocals come in for the bridge. The tempo goes right back up as the chorus comes in. While it is one of the ‘poppier’ tracks on the album it is catchy as hell. Towards the end of the track Sander’s vocals are left with nothing but an acoustic guitar, which is slowly layered by instruments before bursting back into an up-tempo, poppy final chorus.
However, the album is not completely full of fun, upbeat pop rock tracks as the band has still included some soft, ballad like tunes. While there is much less focus on them than in A Lesson In Romantics, they definitely play up the band’s strengths in this setting. The piano-led and string laden “Stay” provides the emotional highpoint of the album. While it is no “Miserable At Best” or even “One Man Drinking Games” (from the first EP) it is still a beautiful track, allowing Sanders to give his best vocal performance for the album.
“I’d Rather Make Mistakes Than Nothing At All” comes in as one of the most fun, catchy songs on the album, definitely featuring the catchiest hook. It opens led by piano and a basic guitar beat before slowly picking up the tempo leading into the big, catchy chorus. On Mayday Parade the band have found the ability to sing bitter, hopeless lyrics over sugary sweet, bouncy instruments and making it sound great. If the chorus of this song doesn’t get stuck in your head, listen to it again.
Album closer, “Happy Endings Are Stories That Haven’t Ended Yet” again highlights the pristine, beautiful qualities in Sanders’ vocals as they stand out right throughout the track. It stays soft and ballad-like almost right throughout. The energy picks up for a big guitar solo but never gets back to the upbeat sections found on the rest of the album. Nevertheless, it is a great track and a nice way to finish the album.
With their third full length, Mayday Parade has definitely returned to form. They have left behind all the big technical production elements that hindered their last release and have taken it back to basics, showing fans what they do best by creating a solid pop rock album full of massive hooks played out through back and forth dual vocals and upbeat instrument lines. Mayday Parade is an album that proves everything is better when you do things your own way, and that is exactly what this Florida quintet have done.
1. Oh Well, Oh Well
2. No Heroes Allowed
3. When You See My Friends
4. You’re Dead Wrong
7. Call Me Hopeless, Not Romantic
8. A Shot Across the Bow
9. Everything’s An Ilusion
10. I’d Rather Make Mistakes Than Make Nothing At All
11. Without The Bitter The Sweet Isn’t As Sweet
12. Happy Endings Are Stories That Haven’t Ended Yet