With a constant lineup change since its inception in 2003, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus has most likely had their fair share of ups and downs throughout their over 10 year career (now doesn’t that just make you feel old?) Their newest release 4 not only has elements of what made their debut album Don’t You Fake It amazing, but it also shows the long journey that the band has taken (or I guess in this case lead singer/only original band member Ronnie Winter) to get to where they are today.
4 starts off with “Grimm 2.0,” a semi creepily instrumented track (nursery that transitions into axe murderer status) that turns into a harder ‘i’m a man scorned by love’ (or in this case by God because this is they’ve gone all spiritual on us) with melodic screams. Throughout the album, there’s a prominent story line of one going through losing their hope or faith and trying to deal with the weight of the world on their own (“Who do You Work For?”, “The Right Direction” and “Ignorance Is Bliss”) and then kind of realizing that there has always been someone there watching out for you (“It Was You” and “I Know Right”). There is a ‘suicide is not the answer track’ in the form of “Not My Style” and a fun road trip song in the form of “California” weaved into the mix before the album ends with the uber Christian Rock status “Jesus Is My Rock Star,” in which they solidify a chapter in their lives as musicians with chilling pianos and haunting vocals from both Winter and the background performers.
I’ve got to say that tracks to really watch are “Other Side” and “You’re The Mocking Jay.” Both songs shine through the others for very different reasons, especially since they are completely different subject matters.
“Other Side” is a positive and somewhat happier take of a song for someone who has passed away. It’s a beautiful song about keeping a relationship with that person and appreciates the time that they had with that person. While death is not necessarily everyone’s favorite topic, but “Other Side” is certainly not a song what a goal to to make feel depressed afterwards. It’s chorus of “I will wait til I see you/ on the other side/at the gates I will meet you/ on the other side” pretty much says ‘I will see you again one day’ to the person instead of dwelling on the fact that they are no longer around.
Despite what you may think when seeing the song title “You’re The Mocking Jay,” it’s very far from a Hunger Games themed track. This song could easily have been written in the point of view of someone in the military. It’s utterly attention-grabbing guitars and percussion give bring its lyrics of “to all the ones we’ve lost today/you did not die in vain/I will fight another day/I will be your Mocking Jay” to life and turn it into a song that definitely shouldn’t be taken as a parody song. Repeated screaming of the verse “protect the ones you love” towards the end ultimately tie the entire theme together and reminds us that those, whether in the military or in just in positions of protection, are always trying to put others first.
With multiple interviews of Winter stating that yes, they do in fact incorporate Christian themes in their music, I’m not surprised that 4 feels like a more spiritual version of Don’t You Fake It. However, they successfully keep themselves out of the ‘Christian Rock’ genre by not being blatantly religious (minus “Jesus Is My Rock Star” of course). In fact, it’s a very positive album that deals with themes like not understanding why certain things happen, changing yourself to fit in, and wanting to give up on life itself. 4 makes you want to think over your own life experiences and look forward to what lies ahead for the future.