Hype is a powerful thing, especially in the music world. Enough hype can make any album have skyrocketing sales, but at the same time, that same amount of hype can be met with copious amounts of criticism if said music can’t live up to it. That being said, along with their Victory Records issues, A Day to Remember has to deal with the proverbial truckload of hype backing their newest release, Common Courtesy. It’s been three years now since their last release, and though the album has been technically written for over a year now, it has finally seen digital release. The question is, can this album live up to the three years that their fans have (very impatiently) waited for it? I believe it’s only common courtesy to see if I could find that out myself.
Common Courtesy begins with “City of Ocala,” a pop punk jam that does a decent job of showing of vocalist Jeremy McKinnon’s improved vocals – and I’m very surprised at just how much they have improved. At the same time, this track also showed something that became a problem for the entire album: the drums. Aside from being a bit too low in the mix to truly make as much of an impact as they could have, they were simplistic in writing, with no really interesting fills to be found. There are some fills on “Right Back At It Again” and “Violence (Enough Is Enough)” that could have been performed in a different way that would have been much more fitting for the situation present.
It seems that A Day to Remember has learned a bit of breakdown control, as a dose of chugging does not find its way into my ears until the second track, “Right Back At It Again.” Additionally, the breakdowns do have a considerable amount of power to them, for the most part. A large exception is the third track, “Sometimes You’re the Hammer, Sometimes You’re the Nail,” which has a first half that felt almost blatant in its copying of style from “I’m Made of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made of?” from Homesick. Aside from that little hiccup, Common Courtesy shows great control in the songwriting department – with the breakdowns both rare and powerful at heart.
One of my personal favourite decisions for this record is the amount of acoustic guitar used. There are three songs that feature it heavily across its 13 tracks, and those three use it almost perfectly for the scenario. “I’m Already Gone,” which is primarily acoustic, really lets McKinnon’s lyrics shine a bit, as well as gives the album an ample chance to relax after the previous four tracks being aggressive from the get-go. The second track featuring acoustic guitar is “I Surrender,” which is probably my personal favourite track just from how maddeningly catchy it is. At heart, the track almost feels like something from Yellowcard’s catalog, but with a bit of Jimmy Eat World thrown in during the bridge.
When the album finally reaches its last track, “I Remember,” we’ve solidly covered six or seven genres that A Day to Remember played. This leaves me with an almost bittersweet feeling that, although the album has some seriously good singles, makes me question how the album is as a single entity. The nine-minute final track, primarily pop punk in nature, has a fun and catchy chorus, and it ends with something that is rather polarizing in nature: a five-minute session of the band just reminiscing about their time on the road. As much as I understand that some people don’t find listening to that sort of thing enjoyable, I think it added just the right amount of emotional impact to the album’s end that I could ask for. It left me with a euphoric content feeling, and I greatly appreciated that.
Did A Day to Remember live up to three years of hype and impatience by their fans with Common Courtesy? I can’t say I think so; the album has a few inconsistencies and doesn’t have the cohesiveness that their previous records had. That being said, Common Courtesy has some fantastic songs on it – most notably “City of Ocala,” “I’m Already Gone,” “The Document Speaks for Itself” and “I Surrender.” It might not be the masterpiece people were looking for, but it’s definitely an excellent step forward for this band.