A lot of credit needs to go to Four Year Strong here; for as much as bands love to be insulated in their echo chambers and assume their fans will think they’re newest release is the greatest thing ever put to disc, on the basis of that title, Four Year Strong’s belief and acceptance of their audience’s individual preferences genuinely borders on progressive these days. It’s not hard to see why they’d think that though, especially when Some Of You Will Like This, Some Of You Won’t is a collection of acoustic reworkings and unreleased material rather than an entirely new album. It’s also easy to gauge any apprehension towards this release; Four Year Strong have become well-known for leaning on the heavier, burlier side of pop-punk, and any uncertainty about how well stripping back the fundamentals of that sound would work is understandable.
Unfortunately those concerns are well-grounded here, as Some Of You Will Like This… is the sort of messy release where the ideas are certainly well-formed and laid out, but the execution kneecaps any potential success, both for the reworkings and the new tracks. What’s even worse is that it’s so easy to see where they go wrong and how they could be rectified, instead of coming across as shoddy as they do here. The main problem comes in modulation and how, when it’s mismanaged, it really is the death knell for a good crop of these tracks. It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now is the best example, largely resting on gentle guitars and piano before Dan O’Connor and Alan Day throw aside the sweet, quiet vocals that actually work for this instrumentation and transfer to the full-throated shouts of the original, culminating in a heavy-handed acoustic breakdown trying to keep some semblance of heft. It’s telling how much the muscle of the originals is missed here, especially when the band themselves keep trying to shove something close to it into tracks that shouldn’t have it; Stuck In The Middle relies on bare-bones acoustic bashing to achieve some sort of effect it fails to reach, and while the chanted refrain of Who Cares? develops something of a rousing, Dropkick Murphys-esque quality, falling back into thin guitars, especially with the fuller drums, just sounds awkward.
That’s not to say that a stripped-back Four Year Strong track can’t work, as a couple of instances on Some Of You Will Like This… attest to. Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die and Abandon Ship Or Abandon All Hope are much more equalised without any erratic volume or intensity shifts, sticking for a pared-back style that’s basic but a lot more palatable, and the country twang that comes from the touches of banjo on We All Float Down Here shows a smoother malleability at reworking a song that much of this album would’ve benefited from. Perhaps the best example is the previously unreleased Let Me Down Again, taking a darker tone thanks to the simmering electric guitar that forms its backbone, and shows a less clunky, more captivating method of making a more low-key track that would honestly be worth revisiting in the future.
Sadly most of the other rarity tracks don’t fare as well, falling into the same camp of misaligned ideas as the reworkings. Your Ego Is Writing Checks Your Body Can’t Cash at least comes close to succeeding with a breezier pop-punk vibe and some extra guitars and drums to flesh it out, but then there’s For Our Fathers, whose sentiment and acoustic warmth is undercut by some truly awful vocal fidelity, and Nice To Know is another venture into awkwardness, gradually building from glossy, saccharine keys and production that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Mayday Parade track to another tuneless chug whose quieter setup does it no favours, only slightly redeemed by the more direct hair-metal solo to close. Again, there are pieces that work in these tracks, but none of them are connected, and realistically should’ve been left on the cutting room floor.
It’s not as if Some Of You Will Like This… was designed as much more than a stopgap release though. Even the band themselves seem to acknowledge that, and as something to tide over diehard fans and Four Year Strong completionists, this at least offers something a bit different than the rest of the collection. But even then, it’s hard to imagine anyone coming back to this one, especially when a new album proper is released; it’s just too slapdash to really pull off much heavy lifting, and even its highlights don’t offer much beyond some glimpses at a couple of potential new ideas. Other than that, the band have pretty much given their own verdict here – some of you will like this, some of you won’t, but don’t be surprised if you fall more towards the latter.
For fans of: This Wild Life, Dashboard Confessional, Koji
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Some Of You Will Like This, Some Of You Won’t’ by Four Year Strong is released on 8th September on Pure Noise Records.