As It Is, The Great Depression
In many ways, As It Is feel like this era’s pop-punk pinups. However, it seems that the boys are trading in their ‘boys next door’ vibe for a new, more serious look and sound. With their last album feeling light and colourful, The Great Depression explores much weightier topics: it’s very much a social commentary, asking the listener to question what the world has to offer them. The record is definitely a step in the right direction for the band, with an interesting concept, more coherent sound, and meaningful lyrics. However, in their attempt to mature, they have definitely allowed themselves to lack in a certain element that, for many, makes their sound – the fun.
Opening with the title-track, the band immediately touch upon the theme of the album, electing to call the listener a ‘consumer’. This links to the album’s title as, whilst it is referring to the worsening mental health of young people nowadays, it’s also a reference to the actual Great Economic Depression – with this in mind, the track is addressing consumerism and how it affects all aspects of our lives. The opener lays out the concept well, whilst also being a fabulous example of how pop-punk drumming and guitar riffs should work together.
The Wounded World continues on with its own serious message, howling that, ‘We are all to blame for the wounded world’. The song’s lighter choruses contrast with the more serious screaming from Walters near the end, and the variance adds an interesting dynamic. Following on from this is The Fire, The Dark, a song that sounds almost lullaby-ish. Whilst it would usually be quite odd to have such a soft track so early on in an album, The Great Depression is split into four stages (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Acceptance) and, in this respect, a moment of calmness to mark the transition from pained denial to anger is fitting.
The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry) is a fabulous song – it’s like listening to a heavier Mayday Parade. The second half, where Walters mockingly yells about how pathetic the standards for men are and how masculinity renders men entirely unable to show emotions feels raw in a way that really adds to the meaning of the song. Still, it has to be said, that As It Is always sound a bit muted in recorded form: they put on a slightly heavier live show than their albums let on, so it’s quite upsetting that their sound can feel toned-down on albums. The Stigma definitely leaves you with a niggling sense of how much more energy will go into the live version of the track, and how much more alive it will feel.
One of the more fun-sounding songs on The Great Depression is The Handwritten Letter. It features a bouncy guitar riff that’s paired with a head-bopping drumbeat. It all feels very pop-punk and typical of As It Is. There’s a section of messages from fans talking about how it’s ‘okay to talk’ about your mental health, and later comes The Truth I’ll Never Tell with its lovely, energetic drumbeat and Paramore-esque guitar riff. It’s like a song you would have found on the band’s first album, and the chorus is such a highpoint, really capturing the As It Is we know and love.
Songs on the album that also still capture what one would expect from As It Is are The Reaper and The Two Tongues (Screaming Salvation) – cuts that, alongside The Truth I’ll Never Tell, make up the entire ‘Bargaining’ segment of the album. All three tracks have drums that won’t quit and choruses you can imagine screaming along to at a concert. Finally, there’s The End which is definitely the finest example of what As It Is were aiming for. It shows how the band have managed to mature without sacrificing elements of pop-punk that many may consider immature. The song makes for a captivating and hypnotic conclusion, and it’s a sign of even greater things to come.
The Great Depression is out through Fearless Records on Friday 10th August.