Throughout our lives, each and every one of us experiences various changes. Sometimes the changes we undergo are positive and other times they are negative. The same can be said for any band or musician. Throughout a band's career, their sound is likely to change. This change can be subtle or it can be drastic. For the Fallen Dreams has changed their sound quite a bit since the release of Changes in 2008, much to the chagrin of many. Seeing as how Changes was released four years ago and the For the Fallen Dreams roster has undergone many personnel changes since then, the change in direction isn't all that surprising. Despite the largely negative reaction to their previous album, Back Burner, For the Fallen Dreams decided to release another album in the same vein. Unfortunately, some elements of their Artery Recordings's debut album, Wasted Youth, are better realized than others.
Going into Wasted Youth, I was expecting something like Back Burner, which I enjoyed quite a bit. While there are many similarities between these two records, they also have plenty of differences. The elephant in the room here is the clean vocals. The people who can't get over Changes hate them, but I think they work well. However, as was the case with Back Burner, there are some songs that could have gone without clean vocals. "Please Don't Hurt" has a rather poor clean vocal segment and the end of "Always About You" could have been forgone. The extremely catchy passages from "Resolvent Feelings," "Until it Runs Out," and "When Push Comes to Shove" make up for the poor clean vocal parts, for the most part. Another minor gripe I have with the vocals is the odd "throaty" vocals that are used several times (mainly in the beginning of "Living a Lie" and the chorus of "Always About You").
Wasted Youth's instrumentation is essentially more of the same as what was heard on Back Burner, but there are some differences. For one, it doesn't feel as heavy as its predecessor, although I feel that is most likely due to the production (which I will return to in a moment). There are several moments on Wasted Youth that scream "POP PUNK!" and, in my opinion, they're done terribly. For example, the beginning of "Please Don't Hurt" is absolutely abysmal. I'm not sure what For the Fallen Dreams is trying to do with the pop punk influences, but they should really consider passing on that craze. These odd pop punk sections are evidence of odd song structures, which are also an occasional issue with Wasted Youth.
And now, as promised, I will return to the issue of the production. Allow me to be blunt for a moment and just say that the production is absolutely horrendously bad. It's thin, it's muddy, it's wimpy, and it's my biggest problem with Wasted Youth. Drummer Dylan Shippey's kick drum pedals sound like they're hitting a log. The best thing For the Fallen Dreams could do for themselves at this point is cut their losses and take the material for their next album to a producer that is not Tom Denney.
If you enjoyed Back Burner, you'll most likely dig Wasted Youth. It's not quite as good as the former, but it's not necessarily bad either. However, if you're one of the many people who can't seem to get over Changes, you should probably pass on this album, go listen to Changes, and stop complaining. Nobody wants to hear about how you think For the Fallen Dreams should release Changes 2.0 anymore.
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