I knew this was bound to happen. I feel slightly invaded by the fact that it has. Ive never been one to shun a good pop-punk record, but I cant remember the last time I found a rock band whose music I can enjoy on the most base level, that being the level where it inspires absolutely nothing except the need to rock out. Could have been at the turn of the millennium with Fenix TX, I guess, although "Katie W" used to put me in a pretty damp and thoughtful mood. Funnily enough, when I listen to This is What Weve Become I do start to feel as though Im fourteen again, listening to the same pop-punk bands once more, with the same tired palm muting, yardstick leads, and checklist vocal harmonies. And I cant get enough of it.
The follow up to A Step Behind's 2004 debut kicks off with "Kicked Our Fate and Killed Desire." Its actually a fairly impressive song, with a definite sense of anticipation leading to a towering stadium rock chorus of I know we will survive / Our lives are on the line. Its cute, a real movie moment; Pearl Harbor perhaps, although for such an epic effort, it could have used a little more punch. The outro fades melancholy amongst strings, group whoas and a vocal repetition of the songs title. Again, thats cute, but Im not completely sure if its supposed to make me feel something. The preceding line of Ive never felt so far away is more human at least.
The second track "Truth Be Told" is another anthemic sugar cube with a sing-along chorus erupting in a cry of Take my advice and just run away, then something generic about killing me / killing you. Fourth track This Could Be Happening could be my favorite though; yet another killer chorus peaking the second time round with a mini-solo that brings a sappy smile to my face. Maybe this is exactly what makes this album for me; that it makes me smile. The songs are clingy and romantic, hellish and optimistic, lyrical content focusing on life experiences, hopes, and dreams, and through all these big ideas, they bring all their cards to the table in an utterly positive light.
A Step Behind are less psychotic than Billy Talent, more bitter than Fall Out Boy, altogether cleaner than Alkaline Trio, but dont be fooled into thinking that they're anything groundbreaking. They're just a genuine pleasure to listen to. Theres a kind of integrity and wholesomeness to their music that makes it incredibly more-ish. I guess this is the kind of pop-rock Ive daydreamed about playing since I was fourteen; the kind with tired palm-muting, yardstick leads, and checklist vocal harmonies.
You could probably get away with saying A Step Behind is a band with very little personality (no crazy haircuts, no mascara, no dick jokes), and whilst that may be a little strong, being just a band is part of why they work so well. Their first record sold an apparent 10,000 copies, and although this leaves me scratching my head as to why their second full-length is only five tracks long, its also a sign that Im not the only one who feels A Step Behinds moniker to be both accurate and way off the mark.
Theyre not a musical revolution, theyre not a lightning strike into the earth of modern rock; theyre hardly even a pop-punk whirlwind. Theyre a high-energy band with a whole lot of heart, clearly loving what they do and bringing straight-up good times to the arena. If they ever choose to expand upon that then Ill certainly be all ears, but for now Ill just have fun listening to these guys rock out.
8.0 / 10
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