I love a good pop hook. People who say they don’t are either lying or are cold heartless bastards. New Years Day supplies hooks a-plenty with Taking Back Sunday melodies, but here’s the twist -- sung by a woman! I guess the teenage girls can only spend so much time drooling over Pete Wentz, so they also need a gal-fronted emo-pop-punk band to look up to. New Years Day was formed in 2005 by former HomeGrown bassist Adam Lohrbach and Ashley Costello, who was fresh off a breakup with songs in tow. Isn’t that how all emo bands start? Nevertheless, I found I could enjoy this on a shallow level.
Although thoroughly derivative, New Years Day clearly has a leg up on their competition. The high notes that dudes like Adam Lazzara and Patrick Stump get auto-tuned in the studio (then miss or change for live shows) are actually in the natural female range, so I bet Costello can reproduce all of this album live, no prob. Also, even in a music market flooded with mall punk, there really are not that many bands with female singers so I’m sure this is finding a large audience as we speak.
“I Was Right,” the opener and subject of their first video, sums up the feel of the whole album, musically and lyrically. It’s a wronged girl instead of a wronged guy, but both sexes say the same things in the emo world. The song is catchy as hell however, and hard not to get into unless you’re one of those heartless bastards.
The hooks hit hard in every song; they’ve really nailed the formula. Over-dramatic emo lyrical clichés hit hard too. Here’s a sampling: “Your love is my heart disease” (from “Ready Aim Misfire”); “Will tears fall? / Better believe it” (from “Part Time Romance”); and “Making headlines and headstones / Breaking hearts and breaking bones” from “Razor”. The topper would be the entire chorus of “You’ll Only Make It Worse”: “If the world froze over and everybody died / And you and I were the only ones alive / I’d say ‘I’m sorry you made it, it’s more than you deserve’ / Don’t try to make it better, you’ll only make it worse.” Indeed. Wishing death upon your ex seems reasonable.
Then there’s “Brilliant Lies” where Costello wails “thanks for the memories” and I had to go to Fall Out Boy’s MySpace to make sure it wasn’t a cover ‘cause I know they had some song like that. Nope, not a cover, but pretty close. Wait a second…their press release says these lyrics were written by Justin Pierre from Motion City -- now I’m just sad.
A couple songs break their self-imposed mold a little bit -- one is successful and one is not. The tight shuffle of “My Un-Valentine,” while cheesy with Costello aping Gwen Stefani, is redeemed by an unexpected muted trumpet solo in the bridge, a trombone solo near the end and some other horns throughout. Supplied by the Reel Big Fish dudes, the unexpected brass caught my ear. Closer “Saying Goodbye” gets a little metal all of a sudden and sounds forced. The female vocals get the band sounding especially like Damone, who I love, but this song I do not.
Major labels have been trying to fill this niche for a few years, marketing punk-lite like Avril and Ashley Simpson to the teenage emo girl demographic, and New Years Day is definitely preferable in comparison. But obviously this is not something most people reading this site will like. I can be honest and admit that the strong melodies made writing this review not too painful, but it won’t be something I return to often, if ever.