November 13, 2015

Bands ‘Bad’ Albums: A Reflection

Bands Bad Albums: A Reflection (Pop-Punk Edition)

For criteria about what constitutes a ‘bad’ album, please reference this page.

Mayday Parade – Anywhere But Here

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Anywhere But Here was released in 2009 and marked Mayday Parade’s second full-length album and first record under Atlantic Records. It also marked the first release from Mayday Parade without co-vocalist, Jason Lancaster. Mayday Parade first made a mark on the pop-punk scene in 2007 with their debut album, A Lesson In Romantics, which was praised for its high-energy guitar riffs and emotionally charged lyrics.

Where did Anywhere But Here go wrong?

When the album first debuted, fans were very skeptical of how it would sound without former co-vocalist and lyricist Jason Lancaster. Lancaster’s presence in A Lesson In Romantics featured a heavy dose of split vocals with Derek Sanders and a majority of the fan favorite tracks such as “Miserable At Best” and “Jersey.” Whatever Mayday Parade was going to release next, it was certainly under a huge spotlight.

The album felt misguided from the beginning as it suffered from studio interference. In an AP interview with Sanders, he revealed that Atlantic records commissioned lots of re-writes and had a little too much influence on the writing process. Despite Mayday Parade’s writing credit on the majority of the album’s tracks, the overall writing feels lazy and uninspired. “Save Your Heart” could have been a stapled ballad in the bands discography but ends up being tacky and musically dull. “Get Up” is a sure-fire studio influenced track that finds itself being too repetitive with its group chants and sugary safe chorus. All of the creativity found in their debut album is completely stripped away and the focus is on conforming to the ‘pop’ part of the pop-punk scene circa 2007.

Anywhere But Here isn’t so much bad as it is disappointing. It’s disappointing knowing the band is capable of so much more lyrically and musically. The album is comprised of basic chords and simple drum beats that someone with 6 months drumming experience could replicate.  It left a lot of fans wondering if Lancaster was the sole creative force of the band and if they would ever be able to tap into the magic they found on their debut. It is very important to note that this feeling depends on whether or not you heard this album first or their debut first. Keep that in mind.

How does the album fare now?

Depending on the individual, Anywhere But Here may have some nostalgic value. I had a harder time getting into A Lesson In Romantics than most people as I was off-put by Lancaster’s vocals, so my opinion may be a bit biased. Anywhere But Here is a perfectly serviceable album to get young fans involved with the band and genre, but would immediately put-off any seasoned pop-punk fan. Despite how run-of-the-mill the album is, it is delightfully catchy if you can put aside fanboy aspirations and listen to the album for what it is; a pop-rock (heavy on the pop) crowd-pleaser. Every song is a sing-a-long. The production is crisp and allows Sanders lyrical annunciation to have a maximum impact on the majority of the songs. The album’s substance is a superficial level of enjoyment, but that’s not always bad. Albums can still be enjoyable even if they lack depth and substance: All Time Low’s – So Wrong It’s Right & Blink-182’s – Dude Ranch come to mind.

As of 2015, the album feels like incredibly misplaced in the band’s discography. The simplistic beats and lyricism that plague the album  make it feel like a side project rather than an actual addition. The following self-titled release, Mayday Parade, captured everything fans wanted initially and it won back a lot of their core fan base. Monsters In the Closet and Black Lines have pushed the band’s sound further by incorporating styles of alternative rock with more creative musicality and more personal lyrics.

Anywhere But Here has since been largely excluded from Mayday’s recent setlists and is generally unmentioned in the pop-punk community.

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