I have the utmost respect for A Day To Remember and their efforts to stick it to the man and wade through legal battles in order to release and play music the way they want to, but also because when they hit their stride they’re one of the best bands around. They hit this stride pretty much instantly on ‘Common Courtesy’, from the rousing ‘Fuck Yeah!’ of opener ‘City Of Ocala’, and maintain a blistering momentum that carries the record, with a few breaks for softer material. It’s one hell of a ride, and serves as an overwhelming statement in regards to music done properly and thoroughly, making for one of 2013’s strongest releases.
I wasn’t a massive fan of the American quintets last album ‘What Separates Me From You’ and I’ve never been able to really pinpoint why, but I know whatever it was doesn’t exist on ‘Common Courtesy’. In fact, I’d say with confidence that the bands 5th album (if that’s right; ask Victory) is their best to date. It seems like the final stage in their progression to becoming the artists they now are, and wherever the band go from here should be a new start, be it on a major label or not. It just sounds comfortable and accomplished, with any pretences tossed aside in preference of what the band wanted. Self releasing the record obviously helps, and having Chad Gilbert produce it brings a polish that gives the album a shine some of their past albums have lacked. It sounds more composed without losing any of its grit or edge, and in all honesty, A Day To Remember have never sounded better.
‘Common Courtesy’ is an album of two halves, one of which is savage and crushing, and one which is upbeat and poppy. It’s not quite Jekyll and Hyde but listeners will draw an obvious favourite, siding with either the traditional pop-core (‘City Of Ocala’) or the gut wrenching heavier songs (‘Life Lessons Learned The Hard Way’). A Day To a Remember have always provided expertly crafted songs that find a comfortable balance between the two juxtaposing sounds and if anything, this is my biggest praise when discussing ‘Common Courtesy’ because it finds the perfect mix of mild and malicious. It’s evenly weighted, and it’s at its best when it flits back and forth between the two. The moments on tracks like ‘Right Back At It Again’ where the band switch from melodic to breakdowns in a matter of seconds are are spectacles to behold even if they do follow lines like ‘brace for impact!‘ The contrast has never been clearer than on the sixth and seventh tracks of ‘Common Courtesy’. ‘I’m Already Gone’ is a sunshine acoustic driven song with crooning backing vocals, and showcases vocalist Jeremy McKinnon’s more delicate side. Follow that with ‘Violence (Enough Is Enough)’ and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were listening to a different band because the song is absolutely crushing, containing numerous breakdowns and an earthquake inducing vocal performance. Carrying this contrasting trend throughout the record makes for a varied and entertaining listen that never drags, being fifty-three minutes and thirteen tracks long. A Day To a Remember have always been difficult to categorise and it continues to make them one of the most refreshing bands in music.
For me, I favoured the more pop orientated tracks like ‘Life @ 11’ but A Day To Remember have always had at least one element everyone can like, and their latest album is no difference. Huge choruses would be one of them, and there’s plenty on ‘Common Courtesy’. Considering the band have progressed to stadiums it seems fitting that they have the explosive songs to match, with songs like ‘Best Of Me’ perfectly suited to that environment. McKinnon’s voice has never been stronger, and pairing it with soaring instrumentals and poppy breakdowns makes for catchy and exhilarating songs. Add solid lyrical content on top of that and ‘Common Courtesy’ works brilliantly. Drawing inspiration from their experience and discography means that the record sees everything fall into place and it sounds great as a result.
On 9 minute closer ‘I Remember’ McKinnon sings ‘It’s in the hardest times we grow the most‘ and the bands recent struggles are proof of this statement, because the record sees them peak. The nostalgic and reflective final tracks serves as a testament to how far the band have actually come and with an album as good as ‘Common Courtesy’ A Day To Remember can go wherever the fuck they want from here, and hopefully it’s on their own terms.
Rating – 9/10
Listen to – ‘Sometimes You’re The Hammer…’ / ‘Violence’ / ‘I Remember’