I have been anticipating this release even since I saw Whippersnapper play the Foxfire with Strung Out, Straight Faced and Dynamite Boy. At the time of the show, Whippersnapper's most recent album was "The Long Walk." The band opened and was probably the only band that I can honestly say sounded better live than on CD. My jaw was figuratively hitting the floor.
The band played furiously, with four-part harmonies sung by all members (except the drummer), fast tempos, dual melodies on guitars, full bass tone, complex rhythms. Whippersnapper's vocals I would describe as very good singing without an accent, not snotty like Nofx, not annoying like Creed (or any Creed cover bands). The closest comparison I could think of is Saves The Day's singer, but thicker and not as high pitched. Live, the singing sounded like a perfect fusion of hardcore singing and normal good singing. They did all their harmonies and everything flawlessly. From that moment I hoped they would try and get that vocal sound on their next record.
Two years later, Appearances wear thin comes out on Fueled By Ramen records. I don't know why they left Lobster Records (Yellowcard also left them) for Fueled by Ramen. They got a new producer/engineer for this record, and it certainly shows. Upon playing this disc for the first time, I had to stop after the first three tracks and ask myself, "Is this even the same band?" I was so suprised.
After listening to the CD a few times in full, my hopes had been satisfied. They must have used some better mics or something because the vocals sounded twice as good, just like I remember them live. This record is a huge change from the previous: there are barely any vocal harmonies on this record, the dual guitar parts are still there but not emphasized as much ("The Long Walk" sounds like one long guitar solo). All the songs are bit more laid back and bit slower, and the bass doesn't have as much distinctness. (The previous CD's bass sounded like a bass with its "tone" knob up all the way, which was very cool.) The drums are more spacious sounding as well.
Nevertheless, ever song on here rocks and is powerful lyrically. There are songs about improving yourself ("I can't believe all the tightropes that you walk / You make believe that your angle's all you've got"), relationships ("we never say forever to each other anymore / and I wonder if there's nothing left to say"), standing up for yourself ("don't be defined by a faceless mass of charlatans / enticing you to buy their wretched line / keep moving"), etc. Nothing sounds cheesy or like it was engineered to get them on TRL. At the same time the songs manage to be catchy yet serious.
This is an incredible CD, and Whippersnapper managed to top "The Long Walk," an amazing feat. In fact, "Appearances Wear Thin" is probably going to be my #1 record of the year. I would strongly recommend getting both "Appearances Wear Thin" and "The Long Walk" if you're looking for some new music or already are a Whippersnapper fan. Both feature amazing songs, and they complement each other very well.