Anarbor – Burnout
Record Label: Hopeless Records
Release Date: June 4th 2013
Believe it or not, Arizona outfit Anarbor is not from Ann Arbor, Michigan. That’s what I thought when I first heard of them around three years ago or so, but I originally found out about this band through Cartoon Network, of all places to find music. They wrote a song called “You and I,” from a Scooby Doo film, which appeared on the band’s second EP for Hopeless Records, Free Your Mind. I got into the band a week or so before debut record The Words You Don’t Swallow was released, and in fact, I got to meet the band, due to pre-ordering that record from Hot Topic. I also got a signed poster from the band, too, which was really cool, but that record was a very solid record. It was a nice burst of pop-rock meets pop-punk, and that was really it. It wasn’t too unique, but it was still very enjoyable and light-hearted. There were a couple of more “serious” tracks, but all in all, it was very fun, and energetic. The same can really be said for sophomore record, Burnout. It’s been about three years since the band has released a record, and after going through plenty of lineup changes over the last few years, it makes sense why this record would take so long to come out. So, you would think that the band would have changed their sound or progressed a bit, right? Well, not really. I wasn’t a huge fan of the band anymore, but I did want to give it a shot, because I have some nostalgic memories with their last record. This record is one of those records that I have mixed feelings on. On one hand, I really like it, but on the other, it’s a bit of a disappointment. It’s worth noting that the good does outweigh the bad in this case, so this is ultimately a very enjoyable record.
Since I want this review to end on a very positive note, let’s start with why this record was rather disappointing. Basically, it doesn’t really do anything differently than what The Words You Don’t Swallow did. That record was really enjoyable, because there was a rather groovy and funky sound to it, all the while combining pop hooks, and even some pop-punk aggressiveness with vocalist Slade Echeverria’s quite soulful vocals. This record has more or less the same; the pop hooks are bigger, the guitar riffs are groovy, and Slade’s voice is still just as soulful. Another disappointing aspect for myself, and the biggest problem with this record for me are its lyrics, most of the time. The lyrics on The Words You Don’t Swallow were rather fun, but generic and cliché. The same goes for this record as well. Songs like “18,” “Whiskey In Hell,” and “Rock to My Roll” have very simplistic and cliché lyrics. The lyrics are the weakest point of this record, if anything. There’s really no substance to them, but they are fun to sing along to, even if they are rather silly at times. They’re not horrible, but if you’re looking for substance and clever wordplay, you’re looking in the wrong place. If anything, the main strength for this record are its knack for pop hooks. That’s the most enjoyable part about it, frankly. There’s a lot of pop hooks, and every song, minus a few, really hone in that sound, and aspect of their sound. A few songs are a bit more “serious,” such as “Take My Pain Away,” “Damage I’ve Done,” and despite the cheesy lyrics, “I Don’t Love You Anymore.” Songs like these really show the band at their most vulnerable, and it is nice to see some of these kinds of songs on this record. Their last record did have a couple of songs like that as well, but they didn’t make a lasting impression.
It is nice to see some diversity in the record, even if the overall sound really hasn’t changed much, other than the fact that they’ve really honed in their pop sensibility. Anarbor has never been one of my favorite bands, but this record is a nice breezy summertime record. The fact they released it now really works to their advantage, because this is a record you could play driving down the highway with the windows open, or just playing it with your friends late at night around a campfire or something. It’s a fun record with a bit of substance. There’s not much, but there are a couple of songs that do showcase the band’s more “mature” side. I’m hoping they ditch the lyrics of booze and drugs and rebelling at some point, but even then, these lyrics are fun and silly. I can certainly see myself spinning this record for a few weeks. The record might not be the album of the year for myself, but it’s got enough catchy hooks to last for awhile.