Given that "New Junk Aesthetic" marks Every Time I Die's jump from their their longtime label home of Ferret Music to the Epitaph roster, some may be quick to question whether the bands ambitiousness will bite them in the ass in the long run. After all, this is a group who have seemingly become more of a party loving outfit bent on sharpening their edges while simultaneously decreasing their swings in recent years.
But while accessibility has been a bullet point for the band on their last few albums, it doesn't necessarily mean commerciality is scrawled anywhere on the same page. Rest assured scene police, "New Junk Aesthetic" is not 'the' sellout album, even if it does feature a cameo from Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz somewhere on it. Instead, the band deliver yet another recklessly temperamental explosion of barbed riffs, impassioned screams and ever facetious wordplay.
Clever lines continually crop up on each song, tempos remain combustible and antagonism runs high. Surprisingly the band have all but dropped the southern slant they seemed to have been enamored with previously, but that's not saying the rock n' roll aspect of their sound has disappeared as well. No, instead they are now often more content to soak themselves in gasoline ingested piss and vinegar and charge headlong into the fire.
Still, for as chaotic as each song feels, the overall course is steady. Despite starting the album off with a knotted dirge in the form of "Roman Holiday", the group quickly shift gears into "The Marvelous Slut", a song that could have easily surfaced on nearly any of their previous albums - even with its cameo from Greg Puciato of The Dillinger Escape Plan.
From there on in it basically remains business as usual for the band, delivering frenetic edgy post hardcore with a metalcore slant and screamo overtones. A few cleanly sung lines deliver a touch of dirty white boy soul and the grating riffs and punchy rhythm section take care of the rest. If anything could derail this album, the sense of comfort and familiarity between the songs featured would be it. For while Every Time I Die have often been good at crafting a song or two that immediately stand out ("Roman Holiday" and "Wanderlust" take the honors here.) They rarely have continually pushed themselves in similarly diverse directions for more than that.
This is easily the most frustrating trait about "New Junk Aesthetic". It's quite possibly some of the bands most energetic material to date and there's no denying the emotion and hunger behind it. But their creativity tends to feel a bit compressed which leads them stick to what they already know and fine-tuning that, rather than perhaps taking a bigger risk and evolving to that next level.
In this instance, the album's title couldn't be more fitting. Rest assured, the group are great at what they do, it's just that they generally let their heart guide them more than their head, and thus, despite being highly enjoyable, "New Junk Aesthetic" can at times feel like a trip to the pawnshop rather than the workshop. But then again, you know what they say about one band's junk....
(4 / 5)