Lead to Light
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We Are Only What We Feel
2009’s Virgin major label debut was something of a minor classic, embracing everything that was good in the mainstream modern rock genre. Hard hitting hooks allied to well written songs proved a successful formula in propelling them into the limelight. Indeed in 2011, it is safe to say that the situation is similar to the one in the mid-eighties where excellent genre defining rock bands in the States were largely ignored by the insular United Kingdom; For Survivor, Journey and Styx substitute Adelitas Way, Daughtry and Hinder. That isn’t about to change anytime soon and so-as it was during the eighties- many will simply purchase import albums as a result of reviews read online or in print.
Surprisingly for a sophomore effort this edges the debut. It’s more cohesive and where the debut featured re runs of heard before demos ‘Home School Valedictorian’ features eleven brand new songs written at the same time specifically for the album. Whizz kid guitarist Chris Iorio has been ditched –apparently his ego wasn’t conducive to a band ethic-and Keith Wallen from Copper steps into the breach. As a result the album loses the solos that peppered the debut and instead concentrates on consistency and burgeoning hook-lines to keep things punchy and memorable. This time around vocalist Rick Dejesus and the band co-write the bulk of the material with producer Dave Bassat, with the exception of ‘Sick’ (Marti Frederickson) and ‘Wanna Be’ (Tyler Connolly) and the standard is phenomenally high. The thumping opener ‘Collapse’ kicks off the album setting a precedent that is maintained through ‘Sick’ and the mesmeric Goo Goo Dolls sounding hit in waiting ‘Alive’. ‘Criticise’ hits hard with its incessant hook, where Dejesus enthuses “I like the way you won’t apologise, I like the way you just demoralise” backed up by tub thumping drums and a stomach vibrating guitar riff.
Interestingly the album, seamlessly jumps from periods of outright angst- or as Dejesus puts it, “punch someone in the face moments”-such as ‘Cage the Beast’ and the aforementioned ‘Sick’ to uplifting songs of overt positivity such as ‘Alive’ or the hopeful ‘Somebody Wishes They Were You’.
In between there’s a breadth of song-writing skill rarely seen from bands of this ilk; ‘Good Enough’ is an introspective look at problems in a fading relationship where one partner can’t seem to do anything right, whilst the phenomenal ‘I Can Tell’ provides an open introspective window into a relationship where one partner loses interest at the expense of the besotted other. The songs manage to combine meaning and emotion with enough hooks and melody without sounding mawkish.
Just for good measure Adelitas Way throw in the almost epic ‘Hurt’ as an album closer. At four minutes long, it builds from soothing verse to a soaring chorus with sublime results.
With ‘Home School Valedictorian’ Adelitas Way has significantly raised the bar for mainstream rock with an album of eleven instant classics, no filler and with a clear announcement that 2011 will be the year that greatness finally becomes reality.