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Album Review: American Hi-Fi – Blood & Lemonade

2 min read

More than a decade since its self-titled debut and almost five years since Fight the Frequency, Boston-based pop-punk band American Hi-Fi revisits some of the loud guitar rock that made it famous in the first place on its fifth studio full-length.

OAmerican Hi-Fi Blood & Lemonaden Blood & Lemonade, the band attempts to recreate the mosh-pit worthy earlier hits like Flavor of the Weak and The Art Of Losing.

Armageddon Days, from which the album title was taken, begins ominously with its cavernous drums and guttural vocals from ringleader Stacy Jones. However, just as the song feeds off the darkness, the choruses venture into pop-emo territory. The sound mix is too hi-fi. The heavier drums make the band border of self-parody, like a modern day version of Poison.

The crunchy opening riffs of lead single Allison have the markings of a head banger, before the choruses speed almost out of control over some rather stock-standard production. It is a grower, unlike second single Golden State, whose sparse verses are a nice contrast against the deceptively sunnier yet catchy ‘who are you’ choruses suited for the dance floor.

Coma does not add much to the often-mentioned theme of the dire need for medical attention in other pop songs like Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor), Dr Beat and even Doctor Jones. Despite the vocal arrangement in the verses recalling the hooks of Elvis Costello, the song overall sounds only a bit edgier than P!nk’s material, with basic rhymes like ‘started’ with ‘hearted’.

After the directionless Wake up, Amnesia is where Blood & Lemonade finally lights up and goes metal, with oppressive riffs and vocals backed with spine-tingling high-pitched guitar licks in the verses. The overly sweet choruses are fortunately temporary, with the track even slows down in the bridge for a raucous, anthem-like climax reminiscent of Muse. The decision to give the track a fadeout makes the track sound like a never-ending descent into the depths of hell, as Jones’ maniacal screeches echo out. The result is even scarier than a cold ending instead

The gloomy, energetic rock of doom and pathos continues on Killing Time, Carry That Sorrow and Portland. The melodies may be well constructed on these songs, yet are not so saccharine that they soften the oppressive mood.  No Ordinary Life marks a surprisingly touching, conclusive closer. The harmonies sound like Simon and Garfunkel gone metal in the verses. In addition, it is sadly clear on this track what was missing from the first half of the album: great-sounding melodies and delectable licks and solos delivered with passion.

It is the second half of American Hi-Fi’s fifth album that shows listeners what the band does best. It is what redeems Blood & Lemonade. If only the first half were not so sugary and generic.