Album Review: As It Is – okay.

Having toured with the likes of Against The Current and Set It Off, Brighton pop-punk band As It Is is no stranger to the scene. The group was signed to Fearless Records in 2014 after the release of their last EP, This Mind Of Mine, and As It Is released their second full-length album, okay., earlier this year.

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okay. was produced by the famed Mike Green, so it’s no surprise that the record is exceptional. Beyond the music, the album is fascinating for its artwork and backstory: lead singer Patty Walters has said that the album was conceptualized during a difficult time for him personally. At first glance, the album art is cheerful and bright; however, the usage of more violent imagery like the bomb in the woman’s bike basket is an interesting commentary. The juxtaposition of the typical “American dream” and darker symbolism accurately represents the sound of the album.

When first listened to, As It Is has every trademark of classic pop-punk songs. They are catchy and sound pretty upbeat. However, very few (if any at all) of the band’s songs are happy, to put it bluntly. Even the most upbeat-sounding songs have angsty lyrics. The album covers topics such as mental illness, family issues (divorce, old wounds with a sibling, ailing family members) and nostalgia.

While As It Is have transferred to a more poppy feel with this album, the tracks are surprisingly individual in sound. Austen, the eighth track, is much more intense than the rest, and No Way Out features a spoken-word bridge (apparently the only thing that would fit over the guitar riff).

Hey Rachel is one of the more personal songs on the album, along with Austen – Hey Rachel is written as an apology to Walters’ younger sister, and Austen is about guitarist and vocalist Ben Biss’s ill grandfather. One of my personal favorites, The Coast Is Where Home Is, is an ode to the band’s origin (Brighton) and the friends they made and have fallen out of touch with.

The first time I heard this album, I had ordered the CD and it came two days early. Naturally, this prompted a near-breakdown while I waited for my archaic 2007 CD player to work. I forced myself to lower my expectations; I loved Never Happy and honestly, I doubted that they could live up to it. However, As It Is seems to have missed the typical sophomore slump by a mile, even though okay. is significantly more “poppy” than Never Happy.

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