This is an album which will divide fans. I’m going to say that right at the start as you shouldn’t have to wait until the summing up to read it. If you’ve heard “Loser”, which dropped a couple of weeks ago, you’ll already have realised that it’s a BIG step sideways for the band – and the rest of the album is very much in the same vein.
Gone is the harsh anger, the staccato rapping, the heavy bass drops and in their place are Muse-esque electronic landscapes, My Chemical Romance emo overtones and more of a floating sensation as the album flows through your ears.
It’s inevitable that bands will change their approach as albums go by, but a change as vast as the one between 2015’s Just Like You and Coming Home is possibly the biggest I’ve ever encountered in a single-release leap. Even the songs which maintain the aggressive core – “Fuck You And All Your Friends” is a prime example – punching you in a different way than they did in the past. That track, for instance, sounds more like many of the post-metal bands floating around than the sharper pop/punk/rap act we’re used to, although there are echoes of the previous three albums as the song gets closer to the end.
“I’m Bad at Life” is angst-ridden and heart-warming at the same time, though the very end with the fast-plucked bass line reminds me more than a little of MCR’s “The Sharpest Lives”. There are so many layers to the sound of the title track and other songs throughout that you’re left wondering what they will sound like live without the use of pre-recorded backing tracks. Multiple vocals, electronica, near-orchestral strings… it’s all very impressive but it detracts from the band sound we know and love. Radke’s unique vocal style is one of the things that makes FiR stand out from the crowd and those very tones are the first thing that’s been buried on this album making it worryingly generic.
Often you can blame a new producer for a sudden change in direction, but we continue with the usual pairing of frontman Ronnie Radke and Michael Baskette though this time they don’t have a third hand in the mix. As such, the only assumption is that it’s a conscious effort by the band to create something completely unlike what they’ve done before. And to that end, they have very much succeeded.
I flicked through a couple of other reviews online after I wrote the above and a couple have raised a point I agree with. Coming Home is a bit “safe”. I’d go so far as to say “radio friendly”. It’s like the band have been told that they’re doing well, but to take the next step they need just a touch more exposure and the best way to do that is to get more radio play. As I said, this can work two ways – fans will either love the new sound or reject it, scampering back to the previous three releases. On the other hand, the album could well harvest them a new following from people who may have been put off by their original, unique sound.
The big question, though, is “will people like it?” and that’s a genuinely hard one to answer. My musical tastes are all over the place and after only a couple of listens I’m already pretty impressed. I like it. Fans who like Falling in Reverse because they’re Falling in Reverse shouldn’t be disappointed. On the other hand those who like the band for their sound may well take a step back due to the change in tone and, one could possibly claim, over-production. If this had been released by Radke and co. as a side project under a different moniker I think it would have stood more chance of being accepted. Hardcore fans are going to be split down the middle.
What we have is a good album if a little “too much” in terms of production. Treat it as an album by a new band and it’s definitely worth a listen. Treat it as the fourth album by a band you’ve been following for a few years and … prepare to have to be open-minded.
Coming Home is out on April 7th.