With Or Without You - Six Reasons To Drop Out (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

With Or Without You

Six Reasons To Drop Out (2004)


I went to a high school of about roughly 800 kids, and out of those 800, I'd say at least 75 dropped out before even making it to senior year. Now, without a GED, let alone a diploma, I'm sure these kids will have terrific lifelong careers bagging my groceries, pumping my gas, and paving my roads, although there's apparently a terrific new alternative to a career in public services: a career in starting a hardcore band. With Or Without You's lyrical content and overall attitude exemplifies their album title Six Reasons To Drop Out to an absolute tee.

At a meager 13 minutes, this 7-song EP manages to go through every single hardcore cliché like they're using a checklist. Lyrics about friends and unity? Check. Breakdowns? Check. Gang vocals? Check. Primitive songwriting, with little-to-no variety? Check and mate. I don't know about the rest of you, but on a hardcore record, I'd say that it's pretty self-defeating when your best track is an instrumental. "The Campaign," simple as it is, still manages to be the best example of songwriting on the entire EP. Though repetitious, the drum fills have a great groove, and the underlying clean guitar tones carry the song the rest of the way. But Explosions In The Sky they are not, as the song quickly ends in favor of "Was having the time of my life, until I realized / I was just a screw up, and I'd eventually run out of luck / Live fast die young / Anthem for the naively dumb," courtesy of their shoutout to O.J. and Michael Jackson, "Smell The Glove." Naively dumb? Well put, guys, well put. The charms of their songwriting don't end there, however. "Check Your Head" offers an arrangement of words that would put a wet spot in Charles Dickens' pants; "I don't care what you think of this band or me / I've got real friends and family / Attack my character attack my beliefs / Your not the first so do your worst / Save your breath I'll never conform / Be warned be warned."

As far as the actual music on this album is concerned, I won't be singing its praises there, either. Singer Andy Frachere comes off more as angsty nü-metal than hardcore. Some of this could be attributed to the production values of the disc, but on the whole, his voice just leaves a lot to be desired. For those who enjoy the gang singalongs, there are quite a few here that should make you happy, as they sound a whole lot better than the normal vocals. As I said before, some of the vocal difficulties could be attributed to the guitars being turned up too far, but you just get the feeling he's not a very strong vocalist any way you cut it. The rest of the instrumentation isn't strong enough to make note of either; the guitar-work is loud, but primarily slow and boring; the drumming, aside from that instrumental track, is pretty lackluster, and the bass is only existent during a few of the song intros.

At only 13 minutes, this wasn't long enough to make me go to the medicine cabinet, but I sure wouldn't advise picking this up at a record store for any reason. If breakdowns and gang vocals are your thing, there's a ton you can do that would satisfy you much better than this disappointing collection of songs. The score's only as high as it is for the instrumental track, which besides not fitting the album's mood, offered its only enjoyment. Pass.