Four Year Strong have blown up. Their third full-length and Universal Motown Records debut Enemy Of The World took five bearded pop-punkers to new limits with its catchy choruses, mosh-worthy breakdowns and facial hair, allowing the band to land tours with bands like Bad Religion, Rise Against and Blink-182. One year post-Enemy brings us to Four Year Strong’s fourth full-length In Some Way, Shape, Or Form, which shows the band departing from their classic easycore roots.
Most of In Some Way, Shape, Or Form makes Four Year Strong come off as a follower in the Foo Fighers‘ footsteps more so than New Found Glory‘s. On these tracks, they fail to encapsulate what makes them a great band. “The Security of the Familiar, the Tranquility of Repetition,” “Heaven Wasn’t Built To Hold Me” and lead single “Just Drive” are as bland as the band’s newfound radio rock sound goes. With cliche, downright unlistenable lyrics (“Someone save me from myself/Drag me from the gates of hell/Cause I’m hanging by a thread/And I’m getting closer to falling off the edge”) and corny melodies that Nickelback would be proud of, these songs will be win/lose tracks for the band as they will lose many longtime fans, but gain just as many, if not more, new ones.
Fortunately, for every dull radio rock track there is an enjoyable radio rock track. “Stuck In the Middle” features a fun chorus and some harsh shouts that we have grown to love from the band while the hard-hitting guitars and sky high chorus of “Infected” make for a solid track. “Falling On You” and “Unbreakable” feature excellent lead guitar lines and well-crafted melodies as the latter has one of the best choruses on the album and the former emerges as one of the best songs on the album.
Even though Four Year Strong clearly decided to go a different route with this album, there are still traces of their past albums on In Some Way, Shape, Or Form. “Bring On the World” fuses alt. rock and pop-punk successfully and “Fairweather Fan” pays homage to longtime fans while also sticking it to fans who decided to abandon the band after the release of “Just Drive” with lyrics like “We’re standing/Standing up to face the branding/We said it before and we’ll say it again/Rise or die trying!” which is a reference back to their first notable full-length titled Rise Or Die Trying.
So was Four Year Strong’s attempts to jump genres successful? Maybe. Some songs featured on In Some Way, Shape, Or Form embody everything that makes an alternative rock song great, but there are other songs that stand for everything wrong in the genre. Radio play is imminent for this band, and if “Just Drive” doesn’t quite get them there, the band’s next album will. And if it doesn’t, we just might be witnessing the downfall of Four Year Strong’s legacy.