Considering they’ve only been in the public consciousness for a short time, Brighton-based As It Is have gained an impressive amount of traction. Off the back of last year’s This Mind Is Mine EP, they’ve gone on to become the UK’s latest pop-punk darlings, as well as taking a decent stab at conquering Europe and America. For any outsiders, their sudden rise to adulation could come across as slightly superficial – vocalist Patty Walters does have a legion of YouTube subscribers – almost 450,000 at the time of writing – following his every move. Fortunately, for the masses of hype surrounding it, Never Happy, Ever After never disappoints.
On this debut full-length, As It Is have wisely eschewed the less palatable features of modern pop-punk. The pointless double-time drums and perennial faux-surliness that are the frequent calling card of The Story So Far, Neck Deep et al have been done away with, and the five-piece have tapped into the same melodic vein as bands like Jimmy Eat World and The Starting Line did at the turn of the millennium. There are throwbacks to the genre’s golden age in the vocals as well; Walters and guitarist / co-vocalist Ben Biss are very much the band’s DeLonge and Hoppus. The latter’s equable, smoother tones provide the accompaniment to the former’s far more Americanised delivery, but unlike the former Blink-182 man, there’s no mangled vowels or bastardisation of words, meaning that it’s a far more pleasant experience to listen to.
All this adds up to some pretty great pop-punk tunes. Cheap Shots & Setbacks and Drowning Deep In Doubt burst at the seams with thunderous emotion and an insatiable hookiness, while the three minutes and twenty seconds of perfection that is Dial Tones is not only destined to be the band’s signature song, but to reach the same level of genre-slaying classic as the likes of My Friends Over You or All The Small Things. It’s all fairly standard stuff, but it’s done with such a level of style and panache that it’s difficult not to admire – catchy enough to fit snugly in the most mainstream of radio playlists but with more than enough beef and depth to set it well apart from throwaway pop.
That’s not to say Never Happy, Ever After is perfect, as there are a couple of tracks that betray the band’s naivety. Weepy ballad My Oceans Were Lakes for the most part is – as its title suggests – a bit wet, while closer You, The Room & The Devil On Your Shoulder is a breathy attempt that seemingly tries to channel Brand New but feels stunted and lacks some oomph. Still, for each of these negatives, there’s about four or five songs that more than make up for them, like the galloping Concrete, or Can’t Save Myself with its brawny shout-along chorus.
With all that being said though, it won’t be As It Is’s originality or novel spins on a genre that’s quickly becoming worn out that will make them stand out, because that’s really not a factor here. Rather, what will allow them to is the amount of pure talent and likability that oozes from this album. They clearly know how to pen more than a handful of great songs, and this album is sufficient proof of this – it wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say they’re the best pop-punk band in Britain right now. If they keep going like this, the sky’s the limit.
For fans of: State Champs, Seaway, The Starting Line
Words by Luke Nuttall