Close to Home – Never Back Down
Record Label: Artery Recordings / Razor and Tie
Release Date: February 15 2011
Last year, I had the opportunity to get a copy of Ohio “easycore” and post-hardcore outfit Close to Home’s fourth record, (but second on Razor and Tie) Momentum. I enjoyed it, even though it was pretty standard post-hardcore and pop-punk mixed together. It’s a cool sound, even though I don’t enjoy it much. I prefer my pop-punk without screams and breakdowns, but it can be fun if done correctly. This band definitely does it enjoyably. I’ve heard third record Never Back Down before a couple years ago, but never really listened to it much. I saw a copy of it on sale for $5 at FYE, so I picked it up, because from what I remembered, I really enjoyed it. And you know what? I’m not surprised I still enjoyed it. It’s nothing spectacular, or ground-breaking, but I’ve said this before, does music have to be? Personally, I love music that’s different, and unique, such as Letlive, for instance. They’re one of the best bands I’ve ever heard, because they’re quite unique and unorthodox. They don’t rely on any formulas or clichés for their messages to come across to people. That’s my biggest issue with Close to Home and bands like them. Their sound is enjoyable, but they rely on the post-hardcore clichés and tropes, such as clean choruses mixed with screamed verses, breakdowns to incite mosh pits, and lyrics that are all about friends, and having fun with said friends. Or relationships and how awful they are. This album is chock full of that, but it’s done in a fun way. The best part about this album is that it’s rather short, clocking in at 37 minutes, so it’s a nice concise listen. There are some “filler” tracks, but there are some very enjoyable ones, too.
The record starts off with the aptly titled “Intro” and that’s exactly what it is – a 51-second intro that just leads into the next track “Days of Our Lives.” Remember the clichés I talked about? Well, this song has them, but they’re enjoyable. It’s mainly got breakdowns and clean choruses and lyrics about friends, but it’s a nice summer anthem. That’s mainly why I got this record, because it’s a great summer album. It’s energetic, and fun, so it’s perfect for this time of year. I did mention there were some filler tracks, and songs like “Count the Ways,” “Nothing Lasts Forever,” “Empty Roads,” and “End of an Era” are rather boring and don’t do much for me. There are a few highlights, too, such as third track “All We Know.” This song has the title of the record in its lyrics, too, so the theme of the record comes full circle. This is the epitome of their easycore sound, really. It’s my favorite song on the record, because everything really works. Another song that really sticks out to me is eighth track “Sink or Swim.” This song is a standout mainly because it’s a slower track that’s about a relationship. This isn’t a song that’s about how awful girls are, but rather, how the writer is so in love with someone that everything that person does makes them happy or hurt, and depending on what happens, they’ll “sink or swim.” I’ve been there, and that’s another thing I like about this record. The lyrics may be rather simple, and they may not the best I’ve ever heard, but they’re relatable. That’s an important aspect in music. Relatable lyrics don’t need to written eloquently, but just need to get their point across in an interesting way. That’s what this band does, especially with songs like that. Closing track “Picking Up the Pieces” is also another memorable track, because this has the same kind of vibe to it. It’s a slower song and it’s almost a ballad, which is strange for this band, but I like it. It works, especially as an album closer. Ultimately, this record is pretty enjoyable, but it’s nothing groundbreaking. If you enjoy easycore, pop-punk, or post-hardcore, this may be something you’d be interested in. Despite not being totally unique, they do what they do well, so you can’t really fault a band for that.