Every Avenue – Bad Habits
Release Date: August 2, 2011
Record Label: Fearless
There are plenty of bad habits in modern pop-rock music today. Cliché lyrics, tired formulas, and excessive autotune are just a few examples that have recently plagued such pop-rock acts like All Time Low, Mayday Parade, and The Maine. Thankfully, Every Avenue avoid each pitfall on their third album, Bad Habits. The 10 tracks display a remarkable improvement from the Michigan quintet from their previous two releases, as they flex some aggressive guitar work and refined songwriting while maintaining their knack for writing catchy pop hooks.
“Tie Me Down” kicks off with soaring guitars (courtesy of Joshua Withenshaw and Jimmie Deeghan) that energetically builds into an infectious chorus, as vocalist Dave Strauchman recalls a failed relationship (“Tie me down/and fuck me up tonight/rip my heart out/hurt me good before you say goodbye/let's do this right now"). Such content serves as the general theme throughout Bad Habits, as Strauchman touches on it again during the foot-stomping “Hit Me Where It Hurts The Most.” Paced by the rhythm section of drummer Dennis Wilson and bassist Matt Black, Strauchman pleads, “Hit me where it hurts the most/Break me down to the bone/You wouldn’t be the first/It can’t get any worse/just hit me where it hurts the most.” The raucous (if a little bit cheesy) “No One But You” features Strauchman howling for some consequence-free fun, while bitterness has never sounded so pristine on the radio-ready “Fall Apart.”
But it's not all animosity on the album, as the band delves into how their relationships suffer from constant touring (“There Tonight” and “Someday, Somehow”). The power-pop balladry of “Only Place I Call Home” is one of the highlights on Bad Habits, as Strauchman absolutely belts it over a nicely layered chorus (Withenshaw and Deeghan's guitar work continues to shine here). He reaches the tipping point on the delicate “I Can't Not Love You,” as his head wages war on his heart over some Ben Folds-esqe piano chords. Despite the everything that has been spilled on Bad Habits, the band finds some clarity on closing anthem, “Watch The World.”
The yearning and melancholy throughout the record makes Bad Habits a pretty stark departure from the fun-loving cynicism of albums past. The quintet honed in on their songwriting and tightened up their musicianship (with help from pop maestro Aaron Sprinkle, whom produced the album) and it shows. Even though they're not reinventing the wheel here, the various tempos keeps the album from getting stale, and it helps that Strauchman turns in his best vocal performance here. Even if some of the lyrics are cringe worthy, you still buy into what he's singing – we can all relate to the bitterness, nostalgia, heartbreak, and hope that's littered throughout the album. Don't fall into a bad habit by missing out on one of 2011's best pop-rock records.