Nothing But Thieves
Lille Vega, Copenhagen, DEN - 23/11
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
Am I The Enemy
Written by: PP on 22/09/2011 06:58:28
Prior to writing and recording their third album "Am I The Enemy", The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus were faced with a difficult choice. Either they could continue the uninteresting and lackluster polished hard rock of their awful sophomore album "Lonely Road", and become the poster boys of irrelevance and a warning for young and aspiring bands on what happens when you make wrong career choices. Or they could hedge their bets and return to the more aggressive, though still easily accessible post-hardcore / alternative rock hybrid sound of their debut album "Don't You Fake It", which is still a bit of a gamble considering the level of saturation in the genre lately. Like "Hell Or High Water" EP suggested from last year, the latter was the more viable and expected option for TRJA, and that's also the route they have selected.
But unlike the EP, the new full length takes a lighter stance on the music and mostly lacks the pointed screaming that was so well-timed and placed on their debut and on the EP as well. So while we're still very much in angsty post-hardcore world when it comes to Ronnie Winter's clean vocals, the rest of the music has been toned down a little to suit the mainstream needs of the band, resulting in many all-too-simple drum patterns and uninspired chord progressions. The climaxes and explosive breaks have been all but abandoned, which I fear is the main reason why TRJA anno 2011 presents an utterly and regrettably superficial sound. It's one that lacks the urgency and emotional depth of their debut album, and consequently feels surprisingly fake from a band that once screamed "don't you fake it" in a heated moment of passion on their convincing debut.
That said, Ronnie Winter still knows how to write a chorus to kill for when he wants to. "Reap", "Wake Me Up", "Angel In Disguise" and "Choke" all have a super catchy chorus that recalls the best moments from the debut album, but otherwise feels a little dated and misplaced compared to the rest of the field in 2011. In many ways, "Am I The Enemy" is "Don't You Fake It" part deux, except stripped from the elements that made that record great. It feels not just contrived, but it lacks the convincing emotion, the aggressive screams that weren't there just for the sake of having some screams (like on a few tracks here), but because they fortified a specific and carefully chosen moment in the song. So while "Am I The Enemy" arguably has a couple of good/decent tracks, they are of the kind that you'll forget or grow tired of only a couple of weeks after stepping away from the album. I wonder if TRJA will make another album after this one, because I certainly cannot see what they could do next to save themselves from hopeless irrelevancy...because while "Am I The Enemy" isn't an awful album, the songs on it leave it unclear why anyone should care about it.
Download: Reap, Wake Me Up, Choke
For the fans of: A Heartwell Ending, Ice Nine Kills, Chevelle
Release date 30.08.2011