Ocala natives A Day to Remember are right back at it again with their latest record, Common Courtesy. Despite a lawsuit against their record company, Victory Records, the pop punk/post hardcore band managed to self-release their album back in October 8th, just as they promised fans.
For the last decade, ADTR’s genre has been difficult to pinpoint, with the band’s ability to blend pop sensibilities with chugging guitar riffs and mosh calls. With Common Courtesy, however, there is no ambiguity over which side it predominately appeals to. The album largely falls under the pop punk spectrum, which is showcased by the first track off the album, “City of Ocala.”
The homage to their hometown easily blends into “Right Back at It Again,” with essentially the same upbeat, skate-punk riffs and the repetition of lyrics (“I’m right back at it again”) by vocalist Jeremy McKinnon; the songs are split only by McKinnon’s croaking of “We’re coming out swinging!” (vaguely reminiscent of “I came out swinging,” in “Came Out Swinging” by the Wonder Years, who they are currently on tour with) in the beginning of “Right Back At It Again.”
The first breakdown of the album seems sudden and awkwardly placed in the end of “Right Back at It Again,” taking away from the song rather than adding to it. The quintuplets seem to be progressively moving away from their metalcore influences with this latest album.
Common Courtesy also features three songs with acoustics (“I’m Already Gone,” “I Surrender,” and “End of Me”), something previously unseen in any of their records. “I Surrender” and “End of Me” are oddly placed around the “brutal” “Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way,” similar to the way “2nd Sucks” interrupted the lighter flow of “This is the House That Doubt Built” and “Better Off This Way” in What Separates Me From You.
“Dead & Buried” and “Best of Me” have a 1990’s alternative rock feel to it, providing fans with plenty of head-bobbing opportunities. During the chorus of “Dead & Buried,” McKinnon seems to channel the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl.
Although it is undermined, ADTR’s status as a post-hardcore band is kept alive by tracks such as “Sometimes You’re the Hammer, Sometimes You’re the Nail,” “Violence (Enough is Enough),” and “The Document Speaks For Itself.” McKinnon’s dirty vocals are significantly coarser than in previous albums.
For a first time listener, Common Courtesy seems to be an album full of contrasting sounds; however, for those who’ve stuck with the band long enough, whether they like their new direction or not, they can agree it showcases the band’s significant growth. McKinnon wrote the album for himself, reflecting on the past ten years (most notable with “I Remember”). Of course, as he looks back, he sends out a middle finger to Victory Records for making the band’s career more difficult than anticipated (the album does start off with a “F*** yeah!”).
A Day to Remember is not afraid to experiment with new sounds, and Common Courtesy shows just that. Although it is not their best album, the band deserves respect for fighting Victory Records, which peers Streetlight Manifesto have also boycotted, while also managing to bring in full houses during their tours. Not bad for a mesh of pop punk and metalcore.