Four Year Strong – Brain Pain
Released: February 28th, 2020
Dan O’Connor // vocals, guitar
Alan Day // vocals, guitar
Joe Weiss // bass
Jake Massucco // drums
Four Year Strong need little introduction. The four-piece released two stellar albums in Rise or Die Trying (2007) and Enemy of the World (2010), then went off and experimented in the mainstream modern rock era on In Some Way, Shape, Or Form (2011). While that record really didn’t sit well with many fans (myself included), the band returned in 2015 and won fans back with their self-titled release, an album that saw them return to their more punk roots. For their fifth studio record, Four Year Strong have enlisted the help of producer Will Putney (who worked with them on Enemy of the World) to bring their words and musical ideas to life on Brain Pain.
The album begins with an ambient, slightly refreshing intro and pardon the pun, but ‘It’s Cool’ is a solid beginning to Brain Pain. It jumps straight into high-energy pop punky riffs that are so reminiscent of classic Four Year Strong. Straight away, you can sense that the guys have taken their time with this album more than anything else they’ve done before. ‘Get Out Of My Head’ has you listening along ever so intently to the message the band are trying to convey while still having a jam. And what Four Year Strong are penning to us on this record is all too relatable to anyone. I feel like thisis easily their most relatable record yet.
‘Crazy Pills’ steps it up another level while also throwing it back to the band’s early days with chuggy punk riffs. I fell in love with this song straight away due to its constantly upbeat energy and catchy singalong chorus. The “I think I’m losing control..” bridge steers you into a killer breakdown, one that we haven’t really heard from the band in years. ‘Talking Myself in Circles’ was the first introduction to Four Year Strong this year in which they showed us their new intricate ways of penning emotions on paper, backed up by tightly written punk power chords.
On Brain Pain, vocalist Dan O’Connor and the gang have really penned together their most thoughtful lyrics with simple, yet effective riffs, making for some of the band’s catchiest songs yet. ‘Learn to Love the Lie’ is a perfect example here, and with guitars that soar right throughout the chorus, this track is an absolute standout from the rest of the album. Title track ‘Brain Pain’ revisits early FYS with that “easycore” vibe; I feel like this could almost have been a B-side to Rise or Die Trying – OG fans are going to have a field day with this one, and new fans are going to have fun with it too. But this next one is going down as my second-favourite song on Brain Pain (my personal favourite comes later). ‘Mouth Full Of Dirt’ is Four Year Strong meets the early 2000’s. Think Blink-182 riffs, heartfelt lyrics you can scream out, ending with the heaviest pop punk almost-breakdown you have heard since A Day To Remember‘s Homesick. The nostalgia continues onto ‘Seventeen’ with the band singing about being teenagers again. It’s an enjoyable little tune, and might be a little too catchy because I can guarantee you’ll be singing “I can remember when we were seventeeeen…” for a week after hearing this.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s rare to hear Four Year Strong on an acoustic. Well, Brain Pain is the album we get a slow jam. Experiencing a side of the band we rarely get to see, ‘Be Good When I’m Gone’ sees Dan O’Connor swap out electrics from the acoustic, singing about being away from your loved ones at home. The band singalongs on the bridge here “oooh whoaa ohhh…” are a nice added touch here too. It’s a very wholesome vibe and FYS should do it more often.
The slow jams don’t last though; the heavy chug returns on ‘The Worst Part About Me’ and this one is for those that like to have fun in the pit. And if you’re in it for the fun, this next one will have you dancing. ‘Usefully Useless’ is my personal favourite of Brain Pain, due to its bouncy, energetic tone. It’s a straight up pop punk jam, and if you’re having a shit day, this chorus will perk you up instantly: “I just can’t figure out what’s wrong with me, I just don’t wanna be a wannabe…” It’s an emotional pop punk anthem at its finest. The album ends with ‘Young At Heart’ and the intro feels a little All Time Low; it begins off slow and ambient, with the heavy guitars chiming back inbetween all of the ambience. It’s a powerful, yet reflective statement about holding onto one’s youthful essence (I’m dying to hold on to you / why can’t I hold on to you?)
Four Year Strong have been pretty constant with their music for much of the last decade, but I reckon they’ve outdone themselves here. Brain Pain is their best work since Enemy of the World and they’ve also stepped up their game hugely by penning out their most intricate lyrics to date. Combine that with the high-energy riffs and breakdowns being churned out as always, and you’ve got yourself a strong pop punk album contender for 2020.
Four Year Strong – Brain Pain tracklisting:
- It’s Cool
- Get Out Of My Head
- Crazy Pills
- Talking Myself in Circles
- Learn to Love the Lie
- Brain Pain
- Mouth Full of Dirt
- Be Good When I’m Gone
- The Worst Part About Me
- Usefully Useless
- Young At Heart
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