Forever the Sickest Kids - Underdog Alma Mater (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Forever the Sickest Kids

Underdog Alma Mater (2008)

Universal Motown

I can't believe I'm about to write what I'm about to write.

Forever the Sickest Kids, perennial competitor for worst band name of the year, have released one of the most energetic and enjoyable albums of this calendar year. Don't believe me? Understandable. But I challenge -- no, I implore you to listen to "Whoa Oh! (Me vs. Everyone)" and try to not be sucked in by the sugar-sweet harmonies.

It cannot be done.

And I'm fine with that. To go further, I'm more than fine with all of Underdog Alma Mater. What the six-piece lacks in originality, they make up for in undeniably catchy and enthusiastic songwriting. Just seconds into "Whoa Oh," it's evident that this bouncy rhythm is a prelude to great things to come, and when the massive chorus hits -- that assumption is realized. The anthemic "whoa-oh"s are positively infectious, and when the rhythm ramps up and the drums come to the forefront, it's impossible to not be caught up in just how well put-together the song actually is.

"My Worst Nightmare" picks up right where "Whoa Oh" left off, with some bouncy chord progressions and layered vocals that keep the momentum throughout. Forever the Sickest Kids experiment with some vocal effects on the chorus this time around, but it plays perfectly into the electronic undercurrent that weaves in and out of the chord progressions.

Even during the slower songs, such as "Phone Call," the band gives off such a positive energy and such a strong sense songwriting ability, that each track flows perfectly into the next.

On mid-tempo closer "Catastrophe," the band mixes their brilliant melodies with a mature lyricism that defies the conventions established by other bands of their ilk.

It's been three days straight, with the sheets and your pillow / The clock on the wall's a reminder, of my father and his integrity / I know that I shouldn't let it get to me, but it does / Who am I kidding with a dead end job and lack of a family
Pop-punk bands aren't usually looked at to be bastions of maturity, but Forever the Sickest Kids' songwriting ability is beyond most of their genre peers, and the same can be said of some of the lyrical themes on the album. Some may write the group off as being a clone of this band or that band, but the simple fact is that Underdog Alma Mater is nothing if not a very enjoyable way to spend 40 minutes of your time.