Rob Gordon once said “The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don't wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.” The same rules can be applied to the making of a standard album. Just like putting together a compilation, the piecing together of an album in just the right order is crucial to its success. Just Surrender must have watched High Fidelity almost as many times as I have, as they have executed the tracklisting of their newest full-length, We’re in Like Sin, with the same attention to detail.
Just Surrender do indeed kick things off with a killer, “Body Language and Bad Habits.” The song is the perfect mixture of pop-rock, MTV2 screamo, and pop-punk - the result is like something off of Taking Back Sunday’s Tell All Your Friends. Especially endearing are the dual vocals of bassist Jason Maffucci and guitarist Dan Simons. The band stick to the rules and “So Close / So Alive” does indeed cool things down a tad. Unfortunately, the song does kind of drop off just a bit too much. The song is a pop ballad with Evy Potter - who sounds like that girl from One True Thing or the girl from Paramore or the girl from… you get the picture - supplying female vocals to the mix. Unfortunately, I think she takes away from the song; the chorus on the other hand, is huge.
Despite the sputtering, Just Surrender aren’t phased, as they continue to churn out upbeat songs fueled by power-pop intensity. “If I Wanted to Cuddle I’d Buy a Teddy Bear,” which is a nauseating title, returns to the form of the opening number. This song actually reminded me a little bit of Hit the Lights. “I Said it Before” has an interesting feel to it with the salsa-esque guitars that are used sporadically. “Your Life and Mine” screams to be played on the radio alongside Fall Out Boy. “New Declaration” is another number that could be on the radio, though it sounds like it’d be sandwiched between Audiovent and Incubus.
Just past the halfway mark and its time to change things up. “Payback” ventures down the acoustic path - you just got to have an acoustic tune to really reach the ladies! This song changes the pace of things too much, practically bringing the album to a stop. This song really proves that Just Surrender is at their best when they’re plugged in. “You’ be in Great Shape if You Ran Like Your Mouth,” another disgusting title, brings things back around to what Just Surrender do best. They get a little help from Colin Ross of Hit the Lights and Chad Gannon of I Am the Pilot in the vocal department - unfortunately, a lot of vocalists of this style sound similar, so the variation isn’t much. We’re in Like Sin wraps things up with three more tunes: the title track has a silly vibe, “Something That I’m Not” reaches into ballad territory, and “I’ll Be Here” mixes the ballad sound, acoustic leanings, and pop-punk into one song - a fitting close to the album.
Bottom-line, Just Surrender is a band that is going to be a huge hit with the kids. Anyone that has been disappointed with the most recent Taking Back Sunday offering or is looking for the next Armor for Sleep, you’ve found your band. With the substantial touring that will likely take place behind We’re in Like Sin, Just Surrender’s fame with the Warped/MTV2 crowd is inevitable.
6.5 / 10
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