LP Review; Anti-Flag: “American Fall”

“American Attraction” starts with a simple melodic idea that soon evolves into a grand instrumental feature that establishes the groove of the piece. Soon after this, the band comes in swinging with strong vocals that are emphasized with heavy hits in the instrumental section (on the strong beats of the song). From the first verse, it is noticeable that this song was going to be very memorable lyric wise as well as having memorable melodic material. Near the end of the song, the band drops down in instrumentation, so that the vocals are featured in isolation with a sentimental tone before moving back to the original pace.

“The Criminals” starts with another instrumental interlude that is driven by a small guitar motive that emphasizes the subdivision of the song. Throughout the work, the band provides some lyrics that are yelled with little to no instrumentation. This tactic is well-received, for it gives the audience something to heavily participate in, and those specific lyrics stick will stick with their audience. This selection has a very standard punk sound, yet it is refined, so it sounds fresh and new while still having a classic vibe to it.

“When the Wall Falls” starts with a small sung verse accompanied by an acoustic guitar that quickly leads into a melodic idea that is similar to something that would be found in a musical; to further, the background music is like the music that would play during a skeptical or suspenseful scene during a musical. Although the verses hold this sound, the chorus returns right back to the general sound that Anti-Flag has presented on the previous tracks. In the middle of the song, the band presents a small instrumental feature that sounds as if it takes influence from jazz improvisation, for it utilizes different timbres that are common for that genre. This song will likely be a fan favorite because it is multifaceted.

“Trouble Follows Me” starts with another guitar motive that is soon joined by the rest of the instrumental section. As soon as the pulse is fully set by the whole band, the vocals add in with simple variations of “woah” before the first verse begins. The percussion part to this song has a steady beat to it, yet the rhythm that it provides to this selection is very effortless, and its motive sticks in the ear of the listener because it’s a strong melodic idea. In the middle of the song, the band provides minimal instrumentation to feature the vocalist. During this portion of the song, the instrumental section fluctuates in dynamics to help emphasis certain (important) lyrics.

“Finish What We Started” starts with an instrumental feature with a few interjections from the vocalist. The sound of this interlude is different from anything that the band has presented on the album thus far; meaning, this feature has a more classic punk feel to it with minimal instrumentation, little complexity among rhythms, yet it’s extremely memorable. In the middle of this selection, the band provides a groove that brings the listeners back to the sound that has been shown on previous tracks. The mixture of these two styles is very effective for the band, for it shows what they can do with the genre that they are working in, and it relates to new and old punk fans.

“Liar” starts with an upbeat backtrack that leads to vocals that are much quicker than the previous tracks. The vocal portion of this song switches back-and-forth between sung lyrics and material that is talked/yelled. The band keeps this faster pace throughout the entire song, and this song (by nature) is the shortest song on the album. This is a smart addition to the album, for a lot of punk bands include faster songs in their repertoire that would prompt their audience to form a circle pit (in a live performance). This selection again mixes old and new traditions of this genre, which would help to make this album more likeable.

“Digital Blackout” starts with a guitar motive that has a darker undertone to it, compared to the other tracks on the album; nonetheless, it sets the pace of the song quickly. As the vocals enter, it becomes apparent that the vocal style of this selection is going to be a mixture of sung lyrics and lyrics that are yelled. That guitar motive remains constant, even if only in small increments, throughout the song; however, the band toys with the adding and subtracting of instrumentation during both verses. The mixture of both techniques gives the audience some variety within one selection, which will help to keep them entertained.

“I Came. I Saw. I Believed.” starts with a lighter tone that quickly leads into a catchy verse. Similar to previous songs on the album, this song has a mixture of an old punk sound a fresh musical idea. With their instrumentation in this song not being overly complex, the band allows the audience to focus on the lyrics. This is effective for this selection because this work is very memorable, and it conveys a general vibe that makes one want to sing along.

“Racists” starts with vocals from the very first beat. From there, the instrumental section builds in texture that fills in to provide a full vibrant sound. The percussive portion to this song is very steady, but it is also memorable to the ear, which helps to establish and provide the groove of the song. The band, again, isolates certain phrases with minimal instrumentation. This tactic is strong for this song, for it gives the audience an instance where they would likely scream those lyrics back at the band at a live event, which is a trade mark for music in this genre.

“Throw It Away” starts with a bass feature that provides a laidback underlying groove for the work. The instrumentation that is added on top of this melodic idea enhances its intent by being heavier with more accents that line up with the bass line. This song, basically put, sounds cool; meaning, the vibe that is set and prolonged is intricate, and it is presented with ease giving it a cool feel. As the song progress, the band utilizes traits that they’ve used in prior songs, but this song sounds unique and innovative, which would make it a foreseen favorite from the album.

“Casualty” starts with the repetition of accented dissonant chords that smoothly transitions into a light and memorable verse that has a lively instrumental part. During the verses of the work, the band switches from a fuller texture to a texture that is minimal. This tactic is interesting because it gives the audience different melodic ideas to listen for and enjoy. It also foreshadows the way that their middle section will be handled because the middle section utilizes the same exact methodology. This is a smart song for the band to end their album with because it is fun to listen to, it is memorable, and it is characteristically similar to the previous tracks on the album.

Final Thoughts: Overall, I would give this album a 4 out of 5 stars. Previous to preparing to review this album, I had never listened to Anti-Flag, but I have always heard such great remarks about them, and now I know why. This band provides memorable lyrics that are fun to sing, they provide music that is interesting and pleasing to the ear, and I could go on and on. When I listened to this album my mind automatically went to music like Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, and so many more artists; however, Anti-Flag took that classic sound and innovated it, so that it would sound unique and interesting. If you are looking for an album that you could sing along to and just simply enjoy, this is the album for you.

*”American Fall” was released on November 3, 2017 through Spinefarm Records.

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