For Fans Of
‘You’re Welcome‘ is a mix of everything that A Day To Remember have done: mainstream rock, their EDM collab with Marshmello for ‘Rescue Me,’ pop-punk, and in a couple of rare instances on this seventh LP, full-blown hardcore. Frontman Jeremy McKinnon previously labelled ‘You’re Welcome‘ as being a “happier” record for them – nothing wrong with that – saying that he wanted to merge the typical ADTR sound with more “modern influences.” Which is code for them writing a tonally and stylistically eclectic album (for them at least) but a messy, scattered one at that. This all manifests in one metalcore song, a couple of pop-punk tracks, some laid back rock tunes, and a few other song experiments mixing electronica, Jeremy trying out some different tones and dynamics, lame sing-alongs, acoustic-guitar douchebaggery, and Top 40 pop.
Just look at the producer list and it makes sense. There’s Jeremy himself; Dan Book, who’s worked with Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, and 5 Seconds Of Summer; Colin Brittain, who’s produced stuff for From Ashes To New, Stick To Your Guns, and Hands Like Houses; Will Putney, a HUGE name in metal; and Mike Green, who’s got producing credits for pop-punk bands like Neck Deep, Set Your Goals, and Sum 41. Working with people like that to make a more varied, “happier” record isn’t a bad thing on paper. After all, variety can be the spice of life – yet this album is spiceless and tasteless – and A Day To Remember have always been a poppy band as much as they were a heavy act. They’ve loved absurdly catchy pop-punk hooks since day one, and tour with just as many pop-punk bands as they do hardcore or metalcore acts. They even covered Kelly Clarkson in the past. For every chug and breakdown dished out, there was always a huge chorus in the key of happy waiting around the corner to claw its way into your ears. There’s always been that duality; “easycore” was never exclusively pop-punk or hardcore, but both, and ADTR did it competently.
This is why I don’t understand the criticism of ‘You’re Welcome apparently just not being heavy enough. Because being heavier wouldn’t have saved this record at all. As ‘You’re Welcome‘ came across like a full-tilt identity crisis. It’s so unbalanced and lop-sided with the different styles that it ventures into that it feels so fucking desperate. After so many years of doing the same thing over again, this record feels like too little, too late. Like the band wanting to appease everyone so they made an album designed to target as many demographics as possible. Like a band sorely wishing to evolve and grow, but seemingly throwing out any old random idea, trying to make as much shit as possible cling to the wall. And I thought that new Julien Baker album was a sad, draining experience.
Despite the album’s lengthy delays, apparently due to mixing and artwork issues – and maybe also due to the sexual assault allegations levelled against bassist Joshua Woodward, which he denies – this album somehow sounds rushed and dated already. Except it just came out. Another by-product of the Floridian band trying to mix it up too much, but instead of things becoming dynamic and grand, it’s jarring and anything but cohesive. That above album art – the cover motif of person-in-foreground-looking-away-from-us used on all of their other albums is as recycled as their songwriting was for many years – is an on-the-nose metaphor for ADTR breaking down anything in their path and finding their own way. Again, not bad in theory. But after sitting through their seventh album, it feels like they’ve made a gross miscalculation about which wall to knockdown.
I never once believed in anything these 14 songs had to share musically or lyrically; I didn’t buy a single line or second of it. I could respect and appreciate the band’s eschewing of heaviness if they replaced that subtraction with a worthy addition; with pop songs that were still good and made up for the shifts in sound. But ‘You’re Welcome‘ doesn’t have that, and even the heavier moments don’t hold a candle to their former glories. I don’t hate A Day To Remember; just one or two of their records. For me, ‘What Separates Me From You’ and ‘For Those Who Have Heart’ remain my favourites. As for ‘Homesick’? A pretty cool album with some great tracks: ‘Another Song About The Weekend,’ ‘NJ Legion Iced Tea,’ and ‘Holdin’ It Down For The Underground.’ While not my go-to by any means, it’s a staggeringly important release for this scene during the late 2000s. One that defined and launched this band into their successes of the 2010s. Which now leads us to ‘You’re Welcome.’
At best, ‘Brick Wall’ is fine. The moving low-pass EQ filter applied to the drums and instruments, as well as the various changes in tempo and dynamics between the different sections, are the most interesting aspects of this opener. But neither of those things are exclusive to ADTR. So I feel that praising the band for implementing such songwriting and production tropes would be me really scraping the bottom of the barrel to say something nice about what is ultimately a stock rock track from them, one that boringly beats you over the head with this uninspired, repetitive breakdown in the finale. An ending that’s trying so hard to be heavy and big when the focus should’ve been on making it good to start with.
‘Mindreader’ is my favourite song on the album and it’s grown on me a lot, even though it does sound like a recentish Papa Roach song. It features one of the better, more tolerable choruses found on the whole release. It’s a pretty safe rock/pop-punk number instrumentally and structurally, and it obviously doesn’t set my world on fire, but that “you’re laughing like I’m supposed to know” hook is pretty dang sweet. I unironically sing that shit back to myself when I’m at work. It’s a cool chorus, what do ya want from me? Although, that “mind, mind, mind reader” part in the bridge section is horrifically cheesy, definitely knocking some of the wind out of its sails for me.
When Architects dropped ‘For Those That Wish To Exist’ recently, many compared it Imagine Dragons. Which makes me question whether or not these people had actually heard said album or even that particular mega-hit act? It’s a fucking strange comparison is what it is. The only song that maybe fits that description is the arena-rock style of ‘Meteor.’ However, to say that ‘Bloodsucker’ is ADTR by way of Imagine Dragons is a very fair assessment. Due to the song’s incessant whooping, muted acoustic guitars in the verses that make it sound like a parody of early 2000’s pop music, sterile blend of electronic pop and rock, and Jeremy’s drily over-compressed vocals. ‘Bloodsucker‘ is a hilariously awful experience, and I don’t know what else tp say about it.
ADTR have always sang about friendships, whether bonding with mates or despising former pals. After all: “my friends come first, that’s the bottom line”. ‘Last Chance To Dance (Bad Friend)’ is the latter with heated words for an ex-friend. The more things change, the more they stay the same, huh? It’s made up of razor-sharp chugs, meaty dun-dun breakdowns, new-age metalcore vibes, lifeless performances and mechanical production. The band have written plenty of solid heavy tracks before: ‘Heartless,’ ‘A Shot In The Dark,’ ‘You Already Know What You Are,’ ‘You Be Tails, I’ll Be Sonic,’ ‘Violence,’ ‘Life Lessons Learned The Hard Way,’ and ‘Mr. Highway’s Thinking About The End.’ But this isn’t in the same tier, not even close, and that juvenile one-liner in the breakdown of “who’s gonna carry your casket” doesn’t help either. An embarrassing moment from a band who are all in their 30’s now, still writing dull chugga-chugga breakdowns like its 2008. Since its release, I’ve seen countless comments about people wanting an album worth of songs like this, and Jesus, that might be worse than the record we got here.
‘Last Chance To Dance’ is the sole darker, heavier, angsty track of the LP, and other than sounding deeply tired and played it, it also feels severely out of place. Though I can see why the band included it: they wanted ‘You’re Welcome’ to be a blow-by-blow journey of their whole career, encompassing all of the styles they’ve tackled, and the music that they like and are inspired by. In practice, though, it’s an extremely jarring shift considering that it’s wedged between the aforementioned ‘Bloodsucker’ and ‘F.Y.M.’, which is a cutesy and chilled-out but also very repetitive pop-rock jam. Which is another problem with the record: it’s abysmal track-flow.
Like ‘F.Y.M.‘ (standing for “fuck you money”), the summer festival vibe of ‘High Diving‘, with all of its syncopated drums and acoustic guitars, and lightly distorted electric guitars, isn’t all that bad. It’s a simple but enjoyable song, one of the seldom examples of ADTR slightly tweaking their formula to make something a bit different. But different with good results, unlike a vast majority of ‘You’re Welcome.’
Jeremy’s Southern vocal inflections on the refrain in ‘Resentment‘ when he sings “burnin’ me up” was corny when it debuted in 2019, and it’s still lame now. (I know they’re from a Southern state, shut up.) I ain’t gonna sugar-coat it, this is one of those awful hooks I sing back to myself not because I like it, but because it’s just really funny to mock. As something being “catchy” doesn’t automatically make it good. The best example of this is Avril Lavinge’s 2014 dubstep song, ‘Hello Kitty.’ What a beautiful train wreck! Back to ADTR, the guitars, bass and drums on ‘Resentment’ sound like crud, tightly mixed together so that the core focus can be on the vocals and the repeating synths. Which I get, but it all then loses its impact. Try as the band might, they pivot things to their done-to-death mosh sound, yet that confusing “welcome to the eye of the tiger!” pit-call – followed up with a silly “GO!” – might be the worst of its kind in recent memory. The song’s message about letting go of hatred and not letting resentment consume us is an extremely in-vogue commentary, and I didn’t need a subpar song to remind me. Jokes on you, ADTR, I resent this song deeply.
‘Looks Like Hell’ is about the band getting in their own way; that they see what they must do, just that it’ll be hard for them as a collective to get there. While the song itself is fun, when I step back and look at the bigger picture of this record, the song seems like a self-fulfiling prophecy about getting in one’s own way. Up next, ‘Viva La Mexico’ is a harmless rock song dedicated to the band’s love of Mexico and their fan-base there, and the cool falsetto “ooh-whoo” hums are a nice little touch, honestly. Though we’re definitely in the forgettable, innocuous middle portion of the record here. Not good, not bad, just kinda there.
The subdued mood, acoustic strums and electro-percussion of ‘Only Money’ has a timeless message about an obsession with money being pointless in the face of family, friends, births, and deaths. Think about how many times you’ve seen that theme in media, literature and music about greed clouding people’s judgements. I guarantee that you’ve also heard a song written and structured this exact way just as many times, if not more. Other than again reinforcing this record’s infatuation with an acoustic guitar like an insufferable university bro who only knows ‘Wonderwall,’ ‘Only Money’ reinforces ADTR’s hard-on for not wanting to bore people so they hastily sprint towards a chorus. Problem is, if you’ve got refrains that aren’t that interesting or as good as the previous choruses that have significantly propped up your career, it’s not going to work and fans will respond in kind. Perhaps one of the reasons why this record has divided many in their audience.
Some argue that ‘Degenerates‘ is good because it’s a big sing-along track that’s just meant to be fun. That it’s a big new anthem for the band. To which I say: please, for the love of Christ, listen to better anthems like ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ by The Killers, ‘Kings & Queens’ by 30 Seconds To Mars, ‘Drown’ by Bring Me The Horizon, or hell, just put back on ‘The Downfall Of Us All‘ for the umpteenth time. Just literally anything else than this.
In the hands of a headier band, ‘Permanent’ may have been a pretty cool rock song about raging against the temporal and the fates, but that’s obviously not as deep as ADTR go. Joe Strummer once said that the future is unwritten, and with this new album, ADTR proves that the musical direction of their future releases isn’t just unwritten, but also uncertain. By the time that ‘Permanent’ arrives, I start to check out of ‘You’re Welcome.’ (Like how you’re probably checking out of this lengthy review by now, which is fair enough.) Some tracks could’ve been given the axe here, and no one would’ve noticed. The chirping, delay guitars and the darker progressions heard in the backing “Ahhhhh’s” just aren’t enough to do it for me with this song. And how it later transitions into a super generic mosh section in the bridge also doesn’t excite me.
To be as blunt as possible, ‘Re-Entry’ is like a really bad Simple Plan pop song during their ‘Get Your Heart On’ era, but without any of the charm. It honestly baffles me that five grown men wrote this. Here, Jeremy sings “I just want to go home” and I feel his sentiment: I just wanted this fucking thing to end by now. I have nothing nice to say about it, so I’m just moving onto the final track.
The direction of ‘You’re Welcome’ really isn’t surprising. Because the band’s most-streamed song in existence, of their entire 18-year career, is the acoustic pop ballad of ‘If It Means A Lot To You’, at well over 151 million streams. In the same vein, ‘Everything You Need’ is them clinging to old wins and attempting to make another sappy, camp-fire ballad hit. Yet it misses the mark spectacularly. Want a good ADTR acoustic bop? Just go back to ‘I’m Already Gone.’ Filled with booming bass drums and bapping synthetic snares, it’s the band clearly trying to pull off another ‘If It Means A Lot To You,’ but their hearts aren’t in it. The pay off in the song’s conclusion just isn’t there! It’s a nothing song, concluding the record in an almost unfinished, anti-climactic manner, making me think: “…that’s it?”
It’s impressive that ADTR managed to have lightning strike twice and make a record that’s almost as bad as 2016’s ‘Bad Vibrations.’ The rather cocky nature of this album’s title aside, a title that’s way too easy to joke about, ‘You’re Welcome’ doesn’t exude A Day To Remember’s usual confidence. If anything, it sounds and feels quite desperate. For all of the changes that they attempted here, none of it feels that meaningful or like a proper evolution. Maybe next time around, by pushing things further in sonic and musical diversity, and with more guts and heart found in the varied songwriting, it’ll work out better? Either way, even when I look at the tiny handful of songs present that I didn’t mind (‘High Diving,’ ‘Mindreader,’ ‘F.Y.M.’), I can already tell that I won’t actively listen to them ever again. That I’ll likely forget about them all come end-of-year list time, let alone once this review is published and I move onto the next thing. Quite frankly, this is one of the weakest, laziest, and most boring records I’ve had the very real displeasure of hearing in 2021 thus far.
Last Chance To Dance (Bad Friend)
Looks Like Hell
Viva La Mexico
Everything We Need
‘You’re Welcome’ is out now.