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The Critics Corner: Albums
Enemy of World
Four Year Strong- Enemy of the World
New and old sounds make for interesting second effort
Name: "Enemy of the World"
Label: Decaydance/Universal Records
Release Date: March 9, 2010
My rating: 3.7 out of 5

Review written by: Ashley Fox
Four Year Strong is a band from Massachusetts that makes music in a genre they laid down the foundation for, referred to as “happy hardcore”. It’s a mix of poppy beats and hardcore sounds, mixed together and blended well. Four Year Strong is made up of Dan O'Connor - lead vocals and guitars, Alan Day - lead vocals and guitars, Joe Weiss - bass, Jackson "Jake" Massucco - drums and Josh Lyford - vocals, keys, synth, and piano. On March 9th they released their sophomore label release, “Enemy of the World” as the follow up to 2007’s “Rise or Die Trying”. FYS quickly built up an intense fan base and traveled around the world from the hype of “RODT”, leaving them with big shoes to fill with this next album.

The album kicks off with “It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now”, which was released as the single and before the dropping of the album -  and with good measure. “IMRSTBFYSRN” easily sounds like it could be the continuation of “Rise or Die Trying” which is good for dedicated fans, but questionable as far as making changes to their sound. The chorus is catchy and inspiriing with the phrasing “don't fix it if it hasn't broken yet/don't regret it if it hasn't happened yet” and after a few listens the line “whoa tonight we feel alive” will be stuck in your head.

Next up is “On A Saturday”. This song transitions very smoothly from the opening track to the beginning of this song.  One of Four Year Strong’s strong points - no pun intended - is their use of gang vocals. The “whoa’s” will be stuck in your head for days - and are easily transferred to the real show. After about a minute or so the song tends to blend together, this track is repetitive and a bit boring because of that.

“Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)” is one of the songs that I was more anxious to hear from the album. It starts of with a bit of a different sound from the previous two songs. It is easily one of the catchiest songs on the album, and most definitely single-worthy. Again, the group vocals pull through and stand out on this song in a Four Year Strong kind of way. The vocals differentiate from what fans became used to on the last album, they’re more scratchy and “tough” sounding, yet the track is still dancy and fun.

“Nineteen With Neck Tatz” was a let down. The intro of the song is great and that’s about it. The song sounds like a song that was penned for “Rise or Die Trying” that got rejected, which isn’t good for either album - or the song itself. It’s got a messy sound and there is a lot going on which in the end takes away from the song.

“What the Hell is a Gigawatt?” is a fast paced song that will quickly become a favorite of new fans and old fans alike. It comes with the familiarity of old FYS, but with a newer sound It’s heavier with more screaming, but has a nice contrast between the music and the screaming. “One Step At A Time” is on the faster and familiar side as well. The vocals sound the best and the most dead on in this song making it one of the better tracks on the album. It’s easy to picture a whole crowd moving together to the words “breathe in breathe out it'll be okay/stay strong hold on make it through the day”.

The best song on the album is “This Body Pays The Bill$”. In true Four Year Strong fashion it kicks off with a strong intro and a solid body that doesn’t disappoint.  The back and forth with the vocals throughout the song is very pleasing to the ear. One of the best parts of the song comes about 2:03 into the song and creates a fun ‘clap-along’ feel followed by strong gang vocals. It is also one of the most lyrically strong songs on the album with “I know she's a disaster/A walking mess, a master of misery/She's everything that possibly could go wrong/She'll always be a lifelong tragedy/That's how I know that she will always be/My third degree for alarm, emergency/The bane of our society”, among other lines easily getting embedded in the listeners head for days to come.

“Flannel Is The Color Of My Energy” surprisingly is a highlight of the album. It tends to move away from the ‘happy hardcore’ feeling a bit and takes on a more generic rock feeling. Although it sounds good, there’s a lot more that FYS could have done with the song to have made it a better attempt at a change.

The title track, “Enemy Of the World” had a Four Year Strong intro, one that is interesting and grabs the attention of the listener. However that’s lost not to long after into the song. This song is relatively boring in relation to the rest of the album, and to Four Year Strong in general and ends up seeming almost unnecessarily long.

“Listen, Do You Smell Something?” is a bonus track that came with a certain version of the album and is easily better then half the album. Everyone who has access to this album should have access to this song as it’s much better then just a bonus track - it fits in well with the better songs of the album. It very much has a FYS type of feel with good mix of hard and happy, catchy chorus’. It picks up on 2:20 with ear grabbing gang vocals that are the type to get stuck in your head and make you want to move and then slows down around 2:39, which couldn’t have been better planned or more appealing.

“Find My Way Back” and “Paul Revere's Midnight Ride” were are two more tracks on the album that weren’t anything compared to some of the songs on the album. They are okay tracks, nothing great about them as well as nothing bad about them.

All in all Four Year Strong definitely didn’t disappoint. Rather then a step back or a step forward on this album, they almost took a step sideways. “Enemy of the World” isn’t quite the album that lovers of “Rise or Die Trying” were hoping for, nor is it the opposite. It’s a Four Year Strong album, that’s for sure, but one that transitions the band in a slightly different direction then expected. New and old fans alike will come to love (or at least enjoy) “Enemy of the World” eventually, and maybe it will take a few listens, but with an open mind, the desire to have fun and a love for Four Year Strong this album will be recognized and liked, although for different reasons then “Rise or Die Trying”. Four Year Strong’s effort’s can be recognized and applauded, here’s to an even better ‘junior’ record.
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