This Time Next Year - Drop Out of Life
Record Label: Equal Vision Records
Release Date: September 27, 2011
I am writing this review instead of reading a chapter of a boring textbook. That boring textbook comes from a class that I’m not really too fond of, and that chapter will be on a test that I have coming up in about a week’s time. I think This Time Next Year will be happy to know that those are the conditions under which this review is being written. As they might say, I’m dropping out of life.
Drop Out of Life might have started as the album title for the Walnut Creek, Calif., quintet’s second full-length record, but it has since evolved into a Twitter phenomenon. Vocalist Pete Dowdalls and guitarist/backup vocalist Brad Wiseman have described #dropoutoflife as exactly what it seems like – the act of stopping whatever lame shit you are doing and instead, engaging in something you believe in and want to do. For Dowdalls and Wiseman, they clearly prefer touring the country and playing uptempo music, and that’s a good thing for us.
Following a trend popular among September 27 releases, This Time Next Year chose to record their LP with a member of New Found Glory. Enlisting Chad Gilbert’s services was a good move in two ways. First off, it gained some attention for this record, a necessary move considering how criminally underrated TTNY’s first full-length, Road Maps and Hearts Attacks, was. Secondly, Gilbert absolutely kills it in the studio. This record sounds immensely bigger than the band’s last release, as evidenced by the opening titular track. From the instantly accessible chorus to Gilbert’s own guest vocal appearance, the song is a kick-ass opener. The guitar riffs on every song are crunchy pop-punk goodness, and leaning more toward the punk than the pop of the musicianship aspect is a good sound for these guys. Every time we hear gang vocals – which happens a lot – they are placed nicely within the mix, an essentially quality for new-school pop-punk.
Dowdalls is most definitely the primary singer here, but Wiseman’s more gruff backup vocals are a huge part of this sound. Those backup vocals, while not an innovative move, are the glue in this band’s core. The double-shot of “Spoontonic” and “Matchbook” are good examples of this, and they also provide a basic nutshell of what to expect on Drop Out of Life. The latter of the two tracks has almost visual whoa-oa’s that sound like they were lifted directly from any pop-punk record released in the early 2000s, and the layered melody is a fun one to belt out.
“My Side of Town” probably sounds the most like Road Maps and Heart Attacks, and while this band hasn’t changed up its formula too much, the heavily improved production value goes a long way in enjoying TTNY’s sound for 36 minutes. When the group isn’t going full speed, like on “Last Call,” with its barbed cries of “I don’t wanna know who’s taking you home / Or where you’re sleeping after last call,” and on the closing “This Is An Airport Train,” they still manage to weave memorable harmonies.
While this will come across a lazy comparison, Drop Out of Life bears extraordinary resemblance to New Found Glory’s self-titled album. I’m sure it seems lazy because of who produced the record and because every pop-punk band gets compared to New Found Glory, but seriously. It’s not like there are shades of New Found Glory here – this is downright déjŕ entendu (uh oh) at times, especially when it comes to the guitar work.
Despite lacking value in the originality department, though, This Time Next Year has manufactured an album that listeners will be happy to jump around their living rooms to for a while to come. It’ll be a good way to keep warm during the coming winter months, if anything. And while I’m certainly not saying this will resonate throughout the years like New Found Glory did, it’s not a stretch to compare Drop Out of Life to more contemporary breakouts like Mutiny! or Rise or Die Trying.
Cannot wait to hear this record. Hopefully there are plenty of moments of Brad singing. The title track and whatever other song I heard did not have much in the back-and-forth department. I love that aspect of their sound.
Just listened to Road Maps yesterday, so I'm fresh in the mood for these guys! So Chad Gilbert actually engineered this album, not just produced it? I know with ADTR, Chad only produced and there was a different guy (Wade) behind the boards.