Forever the Sickest Kids has been in the business since 2006. From the release of their debut album, Underdog Alma Mater, which featured the hit single “Whoa Oh (Me vs. Everyone),” to their newest record J.A.C.K., Forever the Sickest Kids continue to hone and own their power pop sound even with the difficulties met with losing two founding band members and being temporarily unsigned.
Previously signed to Universal Motown, the band was left without a record label when the company divided. Quickly scooped up by Fearless Records, J.A.C.K. is Forever the Sickest Kids’ first album released under the new label. The album features eleven new songs (with a bonus tracks available through Amazon and iTunes) including singles “Chin Up Kid” and “Nice to Meet You.”
“Nice to Meet You” is quite a revealing song, from the perspective of FTSK, about our great country. The song is kind of a wake-up call or eye-opener to what the culture and events in America are really like. From hipsters, infatuation with band guys, the overuse of cell phones to taxes and job shortages each line is almost an unhinged truth to the state that the country is currently in. “I heard that things will change, but I’m just so tired of waiting.” I, personally, found the song to be quite amusing, and the beat is incredibly catchy.
Both tracks titled “Chin Up Kid” and “Ritalin (Born in America)” begin with unexpected instrumentals. Instead of a typical electric guitar or synth sound beginning, “Chin Up Kid” intros with what sounds to be a static-filled TV screen which clears up to reveal a string section accompanied by a chorus singing “Life goes on… chin up kid…” etc., which is exactly what the song is about: moving on and keeping your chin up after a breakup. Likewise, “Ritalin (Born in America)” begins with the band doing vocal warm-ups, transitioning into an almost a capella arrangement for the first verse, before dropping into guitar riffs and delving into the rest of the song. Constantly repeated is the lyric “I see a light at the end of the tunnel…"
“Keep Calm and Don’t Let Me Go” describes a relationship that is headed for the dumps. The singer, however, is desperate to fight to save it. This song has awesome guitar solos and a weird, techno bridge that is actually quite intriguing.
“Nikki” and “La La Lainey” are both somewhat of a love story, but not in the usual soft ballad format. The track “Nikki” was co-written by Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy. Its lyrics bring an “opposites attract” romance to life. “La La Lainey” sings about a girl who is WILD – in all definitions of the word, but they love her anyway! Both “Nikki” and “La La Lainey” are probably my favorites off of this album.
“Kick It!” is a song about having a blast - just being crazy and wild, letting your inner freak out and not giving a care. The message of accepting who you are and never changing is also covered in the track “Cross My Heart.”
FTSK seems to have a knack for making otherwise upsetting topics into really energetic and fun songs. For one, the track “Playing with Fire” is about being with a girl who doesn’t want a relationship; she’s just in it for the “fun.” Likewise, the chorus for the next song, “Count on Me (For Nothing)” just makes you want to clap along with the beat. The track is laced with spite. Though it has a rather upbeat and perky chorus, the message of the song is quite the opposite and makes it clear: “if your love don’t count, then you can count on me… for nothing!”
The next track refers to people who you can count on: Friends. “My Friends Save Me” is a nice little diddy about good ol’ friends. Whether it be through drunken nights, helping you make decisions, getting you through a rough patch, friends are the best support system to have. This song could be an ode to all the great friendships out there!
J.A.C.K. definitely has a lot of catchy songs. I often find myself humming along to the tune of “La La Lainey” and “Nice to Meet You.” Everything, instrumentally, vocally and lyrically, is really just fantastic. In this album, you can find eleven tracks full of the pop-rock, synth, dance-invoking beats that Forever the Sickest Kids is known for. It’s another great addition to the band’s discography and a great debut made under the Fearless Records name.