Overall Score: 7/10/10 Song Writing: 6/10 Musicianship: 7/10 Overall Production: 7/10 Pros: It's clear there has been a level of maturity for Mayday Parade Cons: Songs start to become predictable after a while leading to tuning the album out.
Philosopher Cornel West once said; “you can’t move forward until you look back”. Embracing this ideology, emo titans MAYDAY PARADE have released their long awaited album What It Means To Fall Apart via Rise Records. The follow up to 2018’s Sunnyland offers up 12 contemplative tracks for fans and new listeners alike to sink their teeth into.
The introspective journey begins right away with album opener Kids Of Summer. Against what could be described as a typical pop-punk intro with Derek Sanders (vocals) and Alex Garcia (guitar) taking the reins and drawing us into the world of MAYDAY PARADE. Kids Of Summer leaves us conflicted as it feels dated in terms of the title and cliché lyrical content. While we all have our inner children still looking to be loved, the audience for this band have evolved from this Kids Of Summer. What we haven’t outgrown however, is the need to “turn up the stereo” to drown out our responsibilities with catchy lyrical hooks to scream at the top of our lungs.
As the album continues, there’s a feeling of intense sadness which entwines the catalogue. Yet they do this in a way in which the gravity of the lyrical content doesn’t necessarily hit home on first listen. “You say you’ve got dreams but what about me?” Sanders muses in Sideways, a cynical look at love. The tale of the jaded heart being left behind would have made for a beautifully dark number. When cast against a backdrop of brighter guitars from Garcia and Brooks Betts, however, there’s a thin veil between the outward presentation and the inner workings. Recent single Golden Days looks back over a year which has been brutal for the song’s protagonist. As MAYDAY PARADE lead us through the nitty gritty ramifications of hard times, the collision of brighter instrumentals and darker musings cause the chorus to become muddy. The two sentiments’ struggle for supremacy is a wonderful tool but distracts the listener to what’s going on in the song.
In saying this, there are moments of clear emotional devastation. Heaven comes in like a wrecking ball as the façade of joviality is shattered. Though the song is regarded as an interlude, it is a highlight of the album. Comprised of only one line; “It feels like heaven, the way you put me through hell” the emotional intelligence of MAYDAY PARADE is put on stunning display. With each repetition of the line, different sonic inflections begin to shine through. Rolling drums from Jake Bundrick rattle the fragile illusion. As differing lilts come through Sanders’ vocals, we begin to hear glitches in the matrix and the true nature of this relationship coming to light. When followed by the stunning Angels Die Too, this small section of the album shows exactly what it means to fall apart. It’s undeniable MAYDAY PARADE can still write a good song after seven albums. Bad At Love’s tendency to flit between a fuller band and Sanders’ vocal and piano performance really takes us on a journey through how it feels to be in a sour relationship. Drawing from a universal experience, the way the percussion fades in and out mimics the peaks and troughs of a potentially toxic relationship. This paves the way for You Not Me to strip away the nonsense and deliver tongue in cheek criticism of “disposable love” and realising when it’s time to get rid of that toxic person in our lives no matter how much we love them.
Looking at the album as it comes to a close, What It Means To Fall Apart is another solid effort from MAYDAY PARADE. Though, it can sound like previous material from the band, at times. This catalogue of songs is formulaic at times in terms of their composition. There are instances within this record where introductions will begin to sound the same, to the point we find ourselves inadvertently tuning the album out. This does not make it a bad record by any means because it isn’t. It simply means this album doesn’t cross the line between being good and being great.