Five years is a long time for a musical act of any genre to go without releasing new music. Going silent for such a long time can easily lead one to wonder if an act is even still active. So it goes without saying that when At The Wayside recently announced it would release its first album in five years it was a surprise for lots of people. Luckily though, the album, The Breakdown and the Fall—released May 26 via Indie Vision Music—proves to be a pleasant surprise. That is proven throughout the course of the 12-song record beginning with its catchy, upbeat opener ‘How We Live.’ It will be discussed shortly. The record’s closer, the band’s cover of the classic gospel tune ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken’ supports that statement just as much as does the moving acoustic composition ‘Lines From A Song.’ All three songs prove to be critical additions to the record’s overall presentation. They are only a small portion of what makes the record work. The other nine songs that form the rest of the record’s body are just as important to the record’s whole as the trio noted here. All things considered, they make The Breakdown and the Fall one of this year’s top new rock records and one of the year’s top new independent albums.
At The Wayside’s new album The Breakdown and the Fall is one of this year’s biggest surprises. That is especially considering that it is the band’s first new music in five years. Considering how long the band spent between albums, the surprise proved to be quite pleasant. That is because this record still has all of the musical and lyrical charm exhibited in the band’s 2012 self-titled debut throughout. The album’s opener, ‘How We Live’ clearly supports that statement. The song’s musical arrangement forms a solid foundation with its mix of pop punk and near djent riffs. Such a combination sounds like it wouldn’t work. But somehow, that combination of styles works in this setting. The result of that mix is an infectious arrangement that makes the song a solid starter for the record and an instant fan favorite in its own right. Of course the song’s musical arrangement is only part of what makes it work. The song’s lyrical content is just as important to discuss as its musical arrangement.
The song’s lyrical content is so interesting in that it comes across (at least to this critic) as a statement about the band’s seeming inactivity over the past number of years. That is inferred as Guitarist/vocalist Phil Carper sings, “Some call it faith/Some call it blind luck/Some call it what we’ve always had inside/We’re here tonight/We fought to find a way to face the pain and bring a smile/And it won’t feel like forever for too long/But we can’t just hold our breath until things go.” The rest of the band joins in from there to sing in the song’s chorus, “This is how we live/This is everything we get/Sing these words and melody/Play our hearts until our fingers bleed/This is why we breathe/This is what will set us free/We stayed up to face the night/And we watched the sky ignite together.” The song continues on presenting a message that is just as positive; one that talks about facing adversity in so many ways (metaphorically of course) with the result being the overcoming of that adversity. Such positive language is a great way for the band to return and is a positive message in general. When that message is joined with the song’s upbeat musical arrangement, the end result is a song that will stick in listeners’ heads long after it’s over, ensuring its popularity and showing again why it is such an important part of the record’s whole. It is just one of the songs that makes this record stand out. The album’s closer, which is the band’s cover of the old-time gospel tune ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken’ helps make the record stand out even more.
‘The Breakdown’ is a great starting point for At The Wayside’s new album The Breakdown and the Fall. That is due both to its upbeat musical arrangement and its equally uplifting lyrical theme. The two elements together make the song a clear example of what makes this record stand out in this year’s field of new rock records and independent records. It is not the only song that serves to show why this album stands out. The band’s cover of the classic gospel tune ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken’ also shows what makes the record stand out. This tune has been covered more times by more artists and acts than can possibly be counted in a single setting. Even with that in mind, this take on the tune is still entertaining in its own right. It starts off softly, leading listeners to think it will just be some gentle, rolling arrangement. But shortly after, it lifts off, launching into a catchy mainstream accessible arrangement that shows in itself the band’s reach, proving the band can easily do more than just pop punk. It’s really the type of arrangement that would might expect to hear at one of the nation’s many religious festivals held by today’s “modern” churches. Keeping that in mind and the familiarity with the song’s lyrical content, there is no reason to discuss the song’s lyrical content. It is a classic church tune. Yet again, the way the band handled the song is original and catchy. With that in mind, even as an old church tune, that mainstream accessible arrangement makes it another one of the album’s hits and one more example of what makes this record stand out. A little more than halfway through the record, another song unlike the pair already discussed serves to show even more why this record stands out. It comes in the form of ‘Lines From A Song.’
‘Lines From A Song’ stands out from the other songs discussed here both musically and lyrically. The song’s musical arrangement starts out softly, eventually evolving into a full, powerful work complete with drums, bells, strings and chorus. The gradual growth presented in the arrangement couples with its instrumentation to generate a work that ultimately generates quite the powerful emotional impact. That emotional impact is strengthened even more as the song’s lyrical content is placed alongside that musical arrangement. Lyrically speaking, the song comes across as being a love song. That can be inferred as Carper sings in the song’s chorus, “Tracing every mark/On your beautiful skin/Fingertips apart/So the mind can slip in/And they fed like lines from a song/For this moment tonight/What makes you think you could ever be less/What does the world have to do with us/All that I need is the touch of your hand/Your ocean eyes staring back into mine/My heart is believing/My mind without a doubt/And maybe this feeling/Is so much more than the music and movies make it out.” Carper and company continue to repeat these lines throughout the second half of the song over that already noted growing musical arrangement. The pairing of that growing musical impact coupled with the constant lyrical refrain drives home the song’s message and its emotional impact, making it quite the powerful love song, needless to say. Keeping all of that in mind, the pairing of this song’s musical arrangement and its lyrical content expertly serves to tug at listeners’ heartstrings, again, showing how it stands out from its counterparts. When it is set against its counterparts, that juxtaposition shows even more why the record in whole stands out, too. It shows again the musical and lyrical diversity presented throughout the record, and is hardly the last song that serves to exhibit that diversity. The album’s second song, ‘Inside Of My Mind’ is a classic post-break-up piece that features its subject telling that lost love “I wish you could see inside my mind.” ‘I Won’t Go Down Like This,’ is the antithesis of ‘Inside My Mind.’ It is an empowering yet fun piece with its own musical fire. ‘Lose One Friend, Lose All Friends, Lose Yourself’ stands out, too. All things considered, these songs, the songs discussed here, and those not noted combine to make The Breakdown and The Fall a solid return for At The Wayside; a record that is one of this year’s top new rock and independent records.
At The Wayside’s new full-length album The Breakdown and The Fall is one of this year’s top new rock and independent releases. That is proven from start to finish with a certain diversity in the record’s arrangements and its lyrical content. Yes, it is filled out largely by familiar pop punk arrangements. But the arrangements themselves are never twice the same. They change in their approach and sound each time out as has already been discussed. The records’ lyrical content ranges from the standard break-up and love songs to more thoughtful pieces, too. There’s even a cover of a classic southern gospel piece here. When those elements are joined together, they paint a picture of an album that is a welcome return for At The Wayside, and one that is, once more, one of this year’s top new rock and independent albums. It is available now in stores and online. More information on The Breakdown and The Fall is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:
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