Anarbor - Burnout
Released: June 4th, 2013
Label: Hopeless Records
Anarbor is one of the most underrated bands in the pop-punk/power pop scene. I'm sure every music fan can rattle off a dozen or so bands they claim are 'underrated,' yet few can hold a candle to Anarbor. Everything about Burnout is vastly better than their old stuff, and Anarbor has a pretty solid, albeit small, discography. Stronger lyrics, better instrumentals, and most importantly, better song themes. Old Anarbor was enjoyable stuff, but after hearing a dozen or so songs about drugs I was left wanting something deeper. Burnout provides that, and more.
The four piece from Phoenix kicks off their album with a great song, "Every High Has a Comedown." It does a great job of setting the tone for the album, with a catchy chorus and fun lyrics. The next song, "Damage I've Done" was released almost a year ago, but still is one of the best songs the band has. The lyrics are the strongest on the album, and the line in the chorus 'I wish I knew what the world had in store/For me and all my life' is easy to relate to. And as aforementioned, the song explores themes not about drugs, which is a plus. "18" is up next, and is by far the most pop sounding song here. I imagine it will be one of the album's most popular songs, since it's all about wanting to 'Piss of Your Parents,' and every teenager can connect. It's a well done song, so it's likely popularity is not unjust. For those who kept up with the band, these first few songs, as well as the next pair, have actually already been previewed. That doesn't make them any less good, but if the beginning of Burnout sounds familiar, that's why. One of the first singles on the album, "Whisky in Hell" was, however, slightly reworked, and the production sounds much better this time around. The drums in the intro of the song stand out so much more, and vocalist Slade E (His last name is all but impossible to spell) sounds a lot stronger. "Who Can Save Me Now" is another strong track, and it's clear why Anarbor began showing off some of their songs early. Song 6, "I Hate You So Much" is the first piece on the album that hasn't already been previewed, and here Anarbor shows off their versatility. The vocals on the chorus sound great, and Slade shows off his impressive range throughout the song. Lyrically it is nothing special, though it does show Anarbor can be very blunt in their songs.
The next two songs, "Take My Pain Away" and "It's a Fact" are both great songs, with the former being a solid change of pace as it slows down, but there is a gem hidden deep in the album. "I Don't Love You Anymore", the ninth song, is my favorite song off Burnout and my all time favorite Anarbor song. Most albums start to slow down and slip in a few filler tracks near the end, but Anarbor just picks it up. The groovy guitars, combined with Slade's infectious vocals and a catchy chorus make for a great track. Interestingly enough, the lyrics here are nothing special ("If this is love then f*** I don't want it anymore/If this is love then f*** I was better off before/If this is love then f*** it lose the battle win the war/I don't love you anymore) are simultaneously bad and great. They're nothing deep, not even remotely poetic, and yet are catchy and sound great with Slade's delivery. It's also easy to relate to, and will be on my playlist all summer. Up next, "Freaks" is kinda an odd one. I'm not sure if I like it or hate it, it is hard to describe or explain. The song is different than the rest of the album, but not drastically so. Yet it still manages to stand out. I'm not really making a lot of sense here, so I'd recommend listening to "Freaks," as I'm having trouble describing it. "Rock to my Roll" closes out the regular album acoustically, a cliche that is seemingly becoming more common. As far as acoustic songs go, it's pretty good, but I would have liked to seen something less overdone.
The deluxe version of the album has two more next tracks, and several acoustic renditions. "Before the World Ends" is a bit on the poppier side, and I was expecting the song to explode into a major hook at some point, but it never does. "What He Don't Know", grammatical issues aside, is kinda similar style wise to the previous track, but it has a much catchier chorus and is a stronger song.
Anarbor's Burnout won't generate the same amount of buzz as other pop-punk band's recent releases (Like the Wonder Years or The Story So Far), but in many aspects it outshines both their albums (Give me a second to elaborate, please put away the pitchforks). Contrary to other albums in their genre, Anarbor does a great job of switching up their style. From a pop song in "18" to the harder "Who Can Save Me Now" to the borderline ballad "Take My Pain Away," every song is distinctive. Yet Slade's great vocals still manage to tie all the songs together, preventing this masterpiece from feeling disjointed. As of now, due to a combination of catchy choruses, the great voice of Slade, solid instrumentals, and very solid drum work, Burnout is my leader for album of the year, and I'll be shocked (pleasantly) if anything can uncrown it.
Anarbor is one underrated band and it's so sad! They're pretty good but I feel like there's not a lot of change between this album and their other one. Still, this is a pretty good album.
I agree they haven't progressed a ton musically, though I think this one has stronger lyrics than their previous ones. Granted, songs like Whiskey in Hell still have the standard drugs and alcohol theme, but other songs like Damage I've Done go a bit deeper.
And even if they haven't progressed a ton, I think the band does a good job of making each song sound different, so the album doesn't bleed together a lot, at least in my opinion.