Forever the Sickest Kids - Underdog Alma Mater
Record Label: Universal Motown Records Group
Release Date: April 29, 2008
Note: This review was written over a year ago. My opinion of the band and album in general has severely shifted the other direction. The new score reflects that opinion, and not the one that mirrors the writing. The Original score was an 86.
Forever the Sickest Kids are just one of those bands for me. They aren't that creative, and nothing they do is terribly complicated or captivating. However, I don't think they could make a song that wouldn't get played over and over on my IPod.
The way Forever the Sickest Kids were discovered seems to fit perfectly with their music. One day, in early 2007, one of the band members accidentally dropped 300 plus dollars to get them on the front page of Purevolume. The only problem was they hadn't recorded any songs yet. They rushed into the studio and recorded "Hey Brittany." Suddenly they were getting calls from major labels. They decided to sign to Universal and released my favorite EP of 07, Television Off, Party On.
With a crash of the cymbal a burst of energy exploded in my ear as I started listening to Underdog Alma Mater. The guitarist and backing vocalist, Caleb Turman, is the first voice that's heard on "Whoa Oh! (Me vs. Everyone)." But the songs really kicks in when Jonathan Cook's voice comes in. I don't know what it is about his voice, but it really gets me going. The song "My Worst Nightmare" starts off with a cheery piano/synth line and Cook's voice mildly muted. This song is a great example of the great production on this album. The layered vocals and great keyboards really show off what Matt Squire can do behind the boards. "The Way She Moves" is a song that makes me want to pop in an old 'N Sync album. The way the keys play a scale in the pre-chorus is enough to keep this song stuck in your head for weeks on end. "That For Me" is probably my favorite track on the album; the way the bass drum hits me is astonishing. The lyrics in the chorus are something that anyone can relate to: "I need somebody to rely on / And you, you weren't that for me / And you'll never be that for me."
Normally I dislike when bands rerecord some of my favorite songs. It always worries me that the band is going to ruin the song for me. However, after seeing that Matt Squire produced the album, I wasn't worried any more. Tracks like "Breakdown" and "She's a Lady" show Squire's talents a little more than the band's. The improvements make the tracks more listenable, if thats even possible. The only track that I'm on the border with is "Believe Me I'm Lying." It was my favorite off of the EP, but here it sounds a little bit watered down and over produced. Still, the change in guitar chords in the intro is enough to make the mild misstep OK in by book.
Forever the Sickest Kids have made a great pop album with Underdog Alma Mater. It's catchy, it has the hooks, and it's perfect for the summer months to come. If Forever the Sickest Kids aren't getting frequent play on the radio by the end of the year, the music industry is done with. While the creativity or lack-there-of hurts this album, there isn't a song on this album I would skip.