ALBUM REVIEW: As It Is – Okay.
Here at Bring The Noise we have a lot of love for UK pop-punk outfit As It Is. This week sees the release of their second album Okay., so we’ve checked it out to let you know what you can expect. Spoiler: poppy guitars, feel good melodies and relatable lyrics are definitely on the agenda.
Opener Pretty Little Distance is one many will know for its 50s inspired video, which was released not too long ago. Starting as they mean to go on this upbeat number is infectious as it gets underneath the skin, and will no doubt leave you singing “ain’t life swell from a little pretty distance,” pretending to be Patty Walters before the track is finished. Title track Okay. is another fans will already be familiar with, serving as a taster of the record last September. Now’s the time to mention that on this release As It Is are at the strongest they have ever been lyrically: two tracks in and we’ve been rewarded with quirky yet relatable lyrics, ones that their army of fans will resonate with. This has become one of the reasons we eagerly await new music from the quintet, breaking the typical pop-punk lyrical boundaries with each release.
Hey Rachel is a poppier addition, and with Patrick Foley providing a prominent drum line it arguably boasts the funkiest intro on the album. Singing about having to swallow pride after making mistakes is never easy – especially when it comes to family – and in this case Patty is speaking out to his sister: “Hey Rachel, I’m sorry. I was younger and scared when you needed me.” Saying sorry is never easy, but hey at least something catchy has come from it for As It Is fans! Patchwork Love sways the release in a different direction: a slower track gives Ben Langford-Biss, Alistar Testo and Andy Westhead’s guitar lines time to shine. The track is both lyrically and musically powerful; this is going to become a live highlight and we can’t wait to witness it! Before you think you’re going mad, the piano outro does sound very similar to Hey Rachel‘s bridge. Curtains Close brings back focus to Patty’s strong, emotive vocals, feeling every single word he sings. There’s something magical about the reflectivity of this track, taking you back to a relatable situation where it “doesn’t always matter how hard we try, sometimes the only ending is just goodnight.” We’ve all been there and the simplicity of the music makes this tug at your heart strings even more.
Reaching the midway point of the album there quite simply is No Way Out by the time it comes around, kicking things up a notch with more emotion filled tracks. Already a fan favourite thanks to its earlier release, As It Is have never been ones to shy away from those subjects more difficult to raise, singing of the times you can’t escape the things bothering you the most. The spoken breakdown comes as a surprise, the lyrics “I begin to see myself for who I truly was, somebody desperate, somebody entirely out of their depth, somebody beyond their abilities to cope” preceding heavy guitar lines, backing chants and rawer vocals. Three things standout here: the bass lines providing a whole new musical dynamic; Ben‘s vocals making a well loved appearance; and the lyric “I know that I fucked up but I want to grow from it” is something we’re all going to think at one point in our lives – and that’s okay.
Strumming guitars introduce us to Soap, which also showcases a ska vibe. This couldn’t be any further from what you’d expect from As It Is, and we love it. We have to check that we’re not listening to a totally different band because it’s executed with ease. Upping the aggression factor with stuttered guitar lines and vocals varying in power and volume this steals the show, with a fiery chorus implementing raw vocals to match the lyrical tone.
Austen continues with a powerful punch; fans might not be expecting such rocked up tracks from the quintet but will no doubt love them. It’s clear that these tracks aren’t thrown together, but composed with love, care and attention to small detail. From the varying guitar lines to suit the lyrical matter all the way to the perfect transitions of the melodic bridges between verse and chorus. Until I Return sees the band return to their pop punk roots, it’s a bop, to say the least. The track tells a story of being an ocean apart from someone who protects, looks after and helps you through everything, but having to promise to try and be okay without them. We can see this going down a treat live with pits, crowd surfers and fans attempting to steal Patty’s mic to chant their favourite lines – our personal favourite is “I promise I’ll fight but I can’t promise that I’ll be fine.”
It wouldn’t be a pop-punk album without some mentions of home, and The Coast Is Where Home Is provides this. A harmony filled introduction acts as a great soundtrack for cruising in your car back to your home for summer, or after being away from the coast where your home is for far too long. It might not be the fiercest or most memorable, but you’ll be singing this for days. As we reach the final track Still Remembering it seems As It Is want to tug on the heartstrings again. Softer than any of the previous tracks, you feel each and every word Patty sings with effortless emotion, when things just don’t work out and you’re left thinking “can you tell me what hurts most, is it remembering or forgetting?” Drums are barely noticeable during this tear-inducing track, with plucky guitars and sincere vocals allowing this release to end on a more than an Okay. note.
Sometimes we get handed a release that is all killer, no filler; and Okay. is exactly that. The struggle was very real when we tried to narrow down the tracks that deserved recognition in this review, but the time, effort and heart put into each of them led to them all getting a mention. The lyrics are an art form in themselves, giving you a chance to sit back and take each in, often developing emotional connections. Guitarist Ben Langford-Biss recently commented that they’d aimed to create “a record that sticks with someone throughout their life,” and we truly believe that this has been achieved. This is set to be a huge step in the right direction for the future of As It Is.
Standout Tracks: Soap, No Way Out, Until I Return, Still Remembering
For Fans Of: State Champs, You Me At Six, Seaway
Written by: Nicola Craig