Released 25th November, 2013
A Day to Remember have been owning the Pop-mosh scene since 2003, they seem like a pretty youthful band still, but that’s ten years of dominance. Their early years saw them playing small venues around Ocala Florida, nowadays they are selling out venues only a step down from arenas (that includes Manchester’s prestigious Apollo).
Just like their gigs, the quality of their music seems to be rapidly improving. Their first record And Their Name Was Treason was thrown together in three days in record producer Andrew Wade’s bedroom, credited as the Wade Studio. From this release they acquired a massive local following, vocalist Jeremy Mckinnon claiming that fans all around Ocala knew the words to their shabby tracks. Jeremy admits the band had ‘’no idea what they were doing’’ yet they continued their success with their second album For Those Who Have Heart, a significant step up in production and overall brutality. Their most hailed record to date Homesick was released in 2009, and was welcomed with critical acclaim, as was the follow up in 2011 What Separates Me From You.
Onto Common Courtesy then, a holistic approach wouldn’t do the album justice so I’m going to talk about a few tracks instead. The opener ‘City of Ocala’ (yes, a reference to their hometown) is an instant banger: energetic, emotional and all round fun. It is a nod to their humble beginnings and an acknowledgement of how far they’ve come as a band. A solid beginning to a solid album. The second track ’Right Back At It Again’ is classic ADTR with that hardcore breakdown feel along with the cheesy pop punk guitairs and lyrics: ‘‘You’re too cool for school I ain’t here to make no friends.’’ These two openers are worthy tracks that suck you straight into the record. Once you’re sucked in though, you sort of get chewed up and spat out, for the middle part of the record at least. ‘Dead and Buried’ and ‘Sometimes You’re The Hammer, Sometimes You’re The Nail’ are good, catchy tracks; they’re heavy and are sure to get the crowd moving, but leave a bit to be desired in the choruses. The next few tracks are soon forgotten, using the same formula which is sure to get ADTR into trouble if they don’t start to experiment – ‘Violence’ which was surprisingly the lead single off the album seems to be an attempt to show how heavy they can be, which is totally unnecessary for such an all rounded, talented band.
Don’t worry, all isn’t lost. Following the not-so-awesome mid section of the album is the best song A Day To Remember have ever written in my opinion – ‘Life@11’. It’s not anything new, but it is lyrically touching, full of energy and it truly encapsulates the pop-punk vibe A Day To Remember are no strangers to. Lyrics can be looked at from a number of perspectives, but it seems here that Jeremy is speaking about his personal demons. It’s an honest track that can’t be faulted.
The back of the album is a funny mix, there’s a couple of acoustic tracks which feel like they started off with a good basis but never really reached their full potential. There is also ‘Life Lessons Learned The Hard Way’ which is a death-metal-esque track, and without a doubt the heaviest song the band have ever written. At the 1:30 point Jeremy screams ’You live your life as a fucking target’ followed by a breakdown so earth-shaking I had to physically stop what I was doing when I heard it. The album wraps up with a couple of decent tracks – ‘The Document Speaks For Itself’ with its droning guitar intro and drawn out chorus is very reminiscent of their second release For Those Who Have Heart.
The title of the song begs whether or not the song refers to the recently won legal dispute between the band and Victory Records, if you’ve heard of this record, you’ve heard of this dispute, but that’s a different matter.
The closing track on the album ‘I Remember’ is upbeat musically but melancholy in its lyrical content, it’s a whopping 9 minutes long (very lengthy by ADTR’s standards) – but the latter half is simply a recording of the band talking nonsense. Is it necessary? Not really. Is it what I want to hear on an A Day To Remember album? Not really.
I feel as if some parts of this review may have sold Common Courtesy slightly short – make no mistake, ADTR are one of the best bands around and anything they produce is still golden by default, including this. Overall, Common Courtesy is a great record, but only the amazing few tracks it has props it up as a contender amongst their other records. It’s no less a record than their others, nor is it anything more. Common Courtesy sees A Day To Remember being formulaic, a formula one can’t help but wonder if they can afford to keep up, Common Courtesy also sees A Day To Remember belt out some of the best songs they have ever concocted and it looks like we will hear plenty more from them in due time.