As some of you may recall, back in November of last year I cobbled together a long-winded review of the then-new single “Crash and Burn” from San Diego natives For the Win. While I, admittedly, did ramble a bit on the rise and fall of third wave emo (sorry about that), floating within my bowl of punk-history soup was a mention that the song was promoting a yet unnamed album slated for a 2017 release.
Flash forward to 2017, and we have said album: Heavy Thoughts.
It has been a long wait, but the payoff is well worth it. Though not their first record, this is FtW’s breakout work and will surely put them the contemporary music map. Front to back, the band delivers on a good time. From their melodic verses to their gang vocal-heavy refrains, to their rollicking breakdowns, Heavy Thoughts builds from a familiar foundation yet from there crafts an altogether refreshing, and dare I say even invigorating experience!
Lengthwise, the record feels neither too short nor long. Instead it finds that difficult to attain sweet spot, not so brief as to feel incomplete yet also not drawn out to the point that reaching the end feels like a chore.
The record also, surprisingly, lacks filler tracks; peaking at under 40 minutes, where would they fit anyway? Instead, almost every song feels hooky and well-composed while the 10 tracks blend together very well sonically without feeling repetitive. Each song bears its own personality yet always feels related to the ones prior and after.
Of course, the album isn’t perfect. There are weaker selections. The album unfortunately gets off to a slogging start with “Us Versus Them”–a tough, chugging, metalcore-influenced piece which might have fit better near the album’s midpoint. However, the song isn’t bad by any stretch, only misplaced. This aside, the album hits the ground running by the second track, “G Series.”
This fun pace is kept fairly well all the way to the aforementioned “Crash and Burn,” which feels perfectly at home as the record’s climax. With few exceptions, the album only relents at the very end with the soulful climax, “Until the End of Time,” which begins as a quiet acoustic ballad only to explode into a barrage of strings, distortion, and piano keys which sends the listener off on just the right note.
Overall, this is the kind of album I could see myself dialing up just before embarking on a summertime skate sesh. It contains that perfect balance of grit and melody to keep you smiling all the way into the nearest mosh pit.
Heavy Thoughts drops August 25th via Victory Records.
Check out the official videos for “Dancing Shoes” and “All or Nothing” below: