For the music’s sake, we are going to have a smooth ride in keeping this focused with seats in the upright position. We are all aware of lead singer Ronnie Radke‘s other “ventures” throughout the years. With that being said, I was interested in hearing Just Like You, the third album from Falling In Reverse. With the 2013 release that was “Fashionably Late“, it was believed that there were too many themes going on, whether it be the electronic dub step element or rap – but, hey, Just Like You is actually a step in the right direction. Producer Elvis “Dumervil” Baskette, who has worked with bands like Alter Bridge and Story Of The Year, got some cohesion out of FIR’s strengths. Before you skim or give the conventional side eye because of the band – let me explain.
The album starts off with “Chemical Prisoner” and “God, If You Are Above” which are two strong songs going into the album, particularly the former, which deals with Radke’s struggles with drugs. The album starts and ends with a personal note including the piano ballad “Brother”. Composed about Radke’s brother, who he lost, it’s an emotional ballad that you may have not seen coming from FIR, but it’s effective and heartfelt.
Radke utilizes well-placed harmonies to supplant the catchy choruses of each opening song, shown in the style which he sings the chorus of “If You Are Above”. I reckon that fans who hear the song will try to mimic it the same way. Both songs also pave the way for some great guitar solos from lead guitarist Jacky Vincent that occur frequently throughout the album.
“Sexy Girl” and “Get Me Out” have a David Lee Roth-esque vibe to them, with some lyrics that may have you scratching your head. “Like O-M-G, you may me come, come, come” (yeesh). These are songs that may have gotten the album off track from being a defining composition for the band. “Just Like You” is a tongue and cheek nod to Radke’s public perception. “I am aware that I am an asshole/I really don’t care about all of that though.” That style of pop-punk sounds like a better fit into that playful genre.
With that being said, you cannot acknowledge the album without the hard driving, post-hardcore tracks. “Guillotine IV”, “The Bitter End”, and “Die For You” have opening rifts from Vincent and rhythm guitarist Derek Jones that rope you in and pummel you. In particular, “Guillotine IV” is a great example of how the band can make a complete song that will have half the audience in a mosh pit and the other half raising their hands singing, with Radke switching from deep, coarse screams to a soaring chorus. When I listened to the song, I pictured live shows and fans collectively singing, “Say goodbye to the rest of me”. “Die For You”, one of last tracks on the album, is also the most aggressive, with driving percussion from drummer Ryan Seaman.
But you didn’t think you were going to get away from a Ronnie Radke rap, did you? “Wait And See” has just that as Radke raps over a electronic laced track about the ills of society. “The television is fiction/telling lies to our vision”. I mean, at least he’s being consistent? It’s another track that will throw you for a loop.
No, Just Like You is not a bad album – one could actually argue that FIR is on the right path in finding their place sans the controversy. There are many genres that are touched on this record, with a couple missteps here and there. Headlines or not, the third album from FIR has enough potential to keep me listening- for the music this time around.