Enemy of the World is the newest release by Worcester hardcore/pop-punk hybrid Four Year Strong. The album cuts to the chase with the first chorus of the first track entitled “It Must Really Suck to Be Four Year Strong Right Now” with the lyrics “Don’t fix it if it hasn’t broken yet.” This line describes the band’s newest effort “to a T”. Four Year Strong is back doing what they do best – catchy melodies and bass drum-heavy breakdowns – and they seem to have perfected the art.
From the deliriously headbang-able intro to “It Really Must Suck to Be Four Year Strong Right Now” to the choir-like gang vocals of the title track, “Enemy of the World” doesn’t let up for a second. This isn’t your little sister’s pop-punk. Tracks like “What the Hell Is a Gigawatt?” blur the line between pop and hardcore, and it has a breakdown that rivals that of “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Hell” (yes hardcore dancers, you will have something to karate chop people to at Warped Tour this year). “Nineteen With Necktatz” is like a sampler plate of what Four Year Strong is all about, with its impossibly catchy choruses existing harmoniously with brutal breakdowns. On the other side of the spectrum, “Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)” sounds almost like Paramore… if Haley Williams sprouted a pair of testicles and Zac Farro grew an extra foot.
While this record isn’t quite as riff-heavy as Four Year Strong’s sophomore release “Rise or Die Trying”, the overall musicianship of “Enemy of the World” is vastly superior. For what feels like the first time in very many years, a band is taking pop-punk and doing something dynamically interesting with it. Josh Lyford’s synth lines are subtler in their latest than in “Rise of Die Trying”, but they add an atmosphere to the songs that the latter album lacked. Alan Day and Dan O’Connor’s guitar rhythms are slightly less prominent this time around, but are rhythmically far more complex – luckily, the two have some experience in singing and playing ridiculous guitar riffs at the same time. Jake Massucco’s drumming will have you tapping your feet with the rhythms – that is, if you can keep up.
Bottom line: Four Year Strong’s latest hits hard and fast, and it’s the best they’ve put out to date. Hardcore fans and pop-punk fans alike will find something to love about “Enemy of the World”, and those who can appreciate both styles will find everything to love about it. Four Year Strong didn’t do anything innovative. They did take something that worked once and made it way better. Anyone who has seen Four Year Strong will tell you that they are just a couple east-coast boys who aren’t very good at following trends. Think of “Enemy of the World” as a confirmation of that sentiment. If infectious melodies and breakdowns sound good to you, go pick up Four Year Strong’s newest album, and try not to hurt anybody as you fling your limbs about in self-indulgent, pop-hardcore bliss.