The Ronnie Radke on Just Like You is very different to the one on Fashionably Late. Two years ago, the Falling In Reverse frontman was on top of the world, and it was reflected in second album Fashionably Late, a bratty, braggadocio and chauvinistic record that didn’t sit well with many and, along with some – to put it perfectly straight – idiotic behaviour essentially made him public enemy number one. In 2015 though, on that album’s follow-up, it’s almost like he’s a completely different person. The signs are all there throughout – a frontman who is notoriously outspoken and outwardly gung-ho in his actions wants to put those things behind him with an album that takes a far more confessional, personal standpoint. That being the case, such an album couldn’t have a better title than Just Like You. Not only that, it also happens to be the best album that they’ve ever recorded.
Fashionably Late‘s main crippling problem was that it tried to cram every idea in the world into just fifty minutes. On Just Like You, the number of ideas have been greatly reduced, and it does nothing but good. The sound this third full-length has adopted is a much more straightforward one – Avenged Sevenfold-style riffs with a glossy sheen, and Jacky Vincent’s incredible solos that are completely self-indulgent, but in the best possible way. The vast majority of their previous effort’s work has largely been consigned to the history books – there are no trap songs, no videogame bloops and – thank goodness – no country songs, with even the raps that caught everyone off guard last time only making one proper appearance on the electro-coated Wait And See. It all makes for a much improved sense of cohesion, and makes the record instantly more likeable than its predecessor – the likes of opening duo Chemical Prison and God If You Are Above benefit hugely from their simple, straightforward instrumentation, while poppier cuts like the title track throw themselves at you without even a hint of subtlety. In terms of choruses, you can’t go wrong – there probably won’t be bigger choruses this year than at least half of the tracks on here.
There’s a massive lyrical shift as well, with Ronnie this time focusing on far more introspective topics than baiting trolls and Gucci sneaks, hinting at a definite maturation. Stay Away is a deeply personal look at his own personality (“What have I done? / Who can I trust? I don’t belong here, and I have lost my way again”), while Die For You is a track loaded with genuine rage and anger, as opposed to the last album’s ethos of a bird flip and a couple of insults. It’s final track Brother that’s the biggest left turn, though – a tender piano-led ballad dedicated to Ronnie’s deceased sibling Anthony, showing a far more raw, heartfelt side to the frontman that remained previously unseen until now. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Falling In Reverse record without a few moments of goofiness, and Just Like You has its fair share, Sexy Drug being the most obvious example, with such somewhat cringeworthy lyrics like “Like O-M-G you make me come, come, com-plete” showing that this isn’t a completely sombre affair.
While it may be a huge improvement on their previous effort, Just Like You isn’t completely without its flaws, as shown on heavier tracks like Guillotine IV (The Final Chapter), resplendent with breakdowns that would have been better left in 2005. Compared to what this band have delivered before though, these are extremely minor problems, and it’s almost surprising just how good Just Like You actually is. Leave any preconceptions at the door, and there’s plenty to enjoy with this album, and just how much of a massive improvement it actually is. And if what Ronnie wanted with this album is true, to have some more positivity in his life, and to earn some sort of vindication – to prove he is just like you – well, mission accomplished.
For fans of: Avenged Sevenfold, Atreyu, Escape The Fate
Words by Luke Nuttall