Believe it or not, pop-punk used to be respectable. As the scene progressed into its current state of neon, the genre has become a gimmick, marked by clothing sponsorships and uninspiring music. Even the term “pop-punk” is now carelessly thrown around; bands freely use it in an attempt to obtain legitimacy. The genre has needed a spark to rejuvenate the positive buzz that was once synonymous with it. In recent years, Four Year Strong and Set Your Goals have been leading the charge in pop-punk’s revival, disseminating its true greatness to this generation’s youth. With these two bands at the helm, pop-punk is once again a genre of note. When Set Your Goals’ stellar This Will Be The Death Of Us was released, Alternative Press’ eminent writer Scott Heisel proclaimed, “It must really suck to be Four Year Strong right now.” Seemingly inspired by these words, Four Year Strong have set out to release an album of similar caliber. With their newest release, the band has not disappointed. As far as pop-punk is concerned, Enemy Of The World is as good as it gets.
Even though it is not ripe with innovation, Enemy Of The World shows the maturation of Four Year Strong’s songwriting; every song is well-crafted. Throughout the course of the album, the band flashes their innate ability to write quality choruses and hooks. One would be hard-pressed to forget tracks such as “This Body Pays The Bill$” because of their irresistibility. Unlike other hook-laden offerings in the scene, the ones on this record prove to be lasting and memorable. The songs “Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)” and “Nineteen With Neck Tatz” are appealing due to their adept utilization of gang vocals. These vocals are so infectious that audiences are bound to be singing along on the band’s next tour.
Avid moshers can quell their trepidations about the new record because the band brings the intensity in tracks like “What The Hell Is A Gigawatt?” This particular song keeps the adrenaline running with its driving tempo, while also maintaining a bouncy feel created by Josh Lyford’s synthesizer. This build-up of energy eventually culminates in a patented Four Year Strong breakdown. In this specific case, the band incorporates the use of screamed vocals in order to accentuate its heaviness. Fans will be delighted to hear that the band has not lost their affinity for the breakdown, but they wisely avoid the excessive use of them. While these types of tracks cater to genre’s newer fans, old-school pop-punk fans will be pleased to hear “Find My Way Back” and “One Step At A Time.” These songs pay homage to band’s predecessors, especially New Found Glory.
Two aspects of the album that will probably be lost in the shuffle are the production and the musicianship. The production is well done because every instrument is prevalent in the mix and the overall sound is huge. Pertaining to musicianship, Dan O’Connor and Alan Day never cease to impress with their guitar work. Drummer Jake Massucco and bassist Joe Weiss prove to be a talented rhythm tandem and Josh Lyford adds a different dimension to the band’s sound with his synth work. The improved vocals, especially from Dan O’Connor, are a welcome addition. In the aforementioned “One Step At A Time,” O’Connor steps into the forefront and shines.
Though it may have seemed like an impossible task, Four Year Strong have topped Rise Or Die Trying in all aspects. There is a reason why they have been atop the pop-punk scene for the past few years and their newest album demonstrates why they will stay there. With a major label backing them, mainstream success may be in the future for Four Year Strong. Until proven otherwise, Enemy Of The World is the frontrunner to be the best pop-punk album of the year. It must really suck to be Set Your Goals right now.
2. On A Saturday
3. Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)
4. Nineteen With Neck Tatz
5. Find My Way Back
6. What The Hell Is A Gigawatt?
7. One Step At A Time
8. This Body Pays The Bill$
9. Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride
10. Flannel Is The Color Of My Energy
11. Enemy Of The World
Four Year Strong is an American rock band from Worcester, Massachusetts, formed in 2001. The group consists of vocalists and guitarists Dan O'Connor and Alan Day, bassist Joe Weiss, keyboardist and back-up vocalist Josh Lyford and drummer Jackson Massucco. They have released four studio albums with the latest, Enemy of the World, released on March 9, 2010.
 Rise or Die Trying, Explains It All and Enemy of the World (2006–2010)