By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Lest the Forever The Sickest Kids' pre-release interviews for this, their second full-length release, didn't make it abundantly clear, then the final track on this self-titled affair (saying nothing of the ten songs leading up to it) certainly does, with its all-in shouted refrain: "We're never gonna stop / Never gonna change." Sure enough, whereas other members of the region's once-unavoidable pop-punk scene have seemingly moved on to other genres in this new decade (see: Analog Rebellion, The Secret Handshake, The Virgin Wolves), FTSK staunchly refuse to do so. And why would they? Easily the biggest name and draw in the suburb-adored mall-punk scene, they have a devoted fanbase to consider.
That's not to say that the new disc is without progression, though. For the first time in the completely major label-backed band's career, the five-piece (sixth-member keyboardist Kent Garrison self-jettisoned earlier this year) actually had the chance to spend some substantial time writing and recording this album. It shows, too—especially on the five songs produced by David Bendeth (Paramore, Papa Roach), which boast all the sheen one would expect. These songs, as with the disc as a whole, show substantial musical growth on the band's part; there's an intricacy at play that never before existed in this outfit's new material, which proves more poppy than punky.
Even so, it's a more wide-ranging release, at least so far as influences are concerned: "Keep On Bringing Me Down" nods at '80s hair metal; "Life Of The Party" sounds like Far East Movement-Lite. In recent years, FTSK has been the most pop-oriented band in the region. This disc, while confirming that as much will remain the case in the future, finally finds them showcasing the chops they'll need to make it in those crowded pop waters.
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