If I had to summarize okay. to you in three words, it would be “definitely pop-punk”. Almost everything that is done on this album is pretty rote, from the basic chord progressions, to the style of the vocals, to the simple lead riffs played in octaves.
Songs like Okay are the best examples of where this works – it is well written, catchy and emphasizes how pop-punk can still be very enjoyable even where it fails to innovate. The problem is, very little in this album does much new. Songs like Curtains Close epitomize everything that is wrong with this genre – uninventive, underdeveloped imagery, 2-chord choruses, and repeated refrains.
Sometimes, the album does begin to break from the mould. Patchwork Love is an intriguing new take on the breakup song – written from the perspective of the boyfriend who just wants his ex to find someone she really loves. This is the sort of genuine human expression of goodwill that is rarely tackled, especially in this genre, and makes a change from the veritable ocean of self-pity and angst that fuel the minds of pop-punk lyricists everywhere.
Austen tackles themes of dementia and a dying relative, and shows a level of genuine emotion that I have rarely before seen in this style of music. Needless to say, the tone of this song is much darker than the rest of the album, although potentially offset by the still bouncy vocal style, which could potentially spoil the message.
By far and away the best song on the album is Soap: the lyrics are pretty unremarkable; but the riff is an absolute stormer – inspired quite clearly by reggae, the off-beat guitar and the rumbling bass create an incredible combination. The chorus is nowhere near as good as the rest of the song, but verses and the outro are differentiated enough that it leaves you wanting more – this song shows an excellent understanding of pacing and restraint.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album does not match this quality. I won’t be returning to this album; only isolated singles. While it is perfectly competent, and well produced as pop-punk often is, it lacks any real differentiator to make it stand out above the crowd of other pop-punk bands. AS IT IS have released 3 albums in 3 years, which may account for how generic the album is – it is hard to keep up that level of output without a dip in quality. If they can maybe spend some more time on the next album, this band have the potential to be really good. But for now, this album is well and truly okay.
Best Songs: Okay, Patchwork Love, Soap, Austen