Let’s be honest… the fate of the pop-punk community that once thrived twenty years ago doesn’t seem bright. The last few releases from legendary, genre-defining bands like Green Day and Blink182 have done nothing but disappoint—both in an effort to “modernize” their sound. New bands have yet to find the success necessary to lead the genre forward. And thus, it feels like outside of a few niche releases (shout-out to PUP and Jeff Rosenstock), the genre has become lost, with little to show for itself. Unfortunately, A Day to Remember’s You’re Welcome continues the uninspired work of their peers, alongside a cluttered tracklist and weak attempts to pander to their fans.
Ironically, the worst part of this listening experience is how well the record starts off. Though it isn’t mind-blowing, the opener “Brick Wall” shows off more than competent songwriting, and hits you hard in the face just like its title. Expressing the extreme pessimism of most emo songs, the track fills you up with a hopelessness through repetition of “No escape, no future.” Yet it also recognizes how dangerous this attitude can be—”Pessimism is a killer / Pessimism is a killer.” Then, following some simple, steady-going guitar chords, the breakdown crashes in like an earthquake, with bass that resonates for miles. In a lot of ways, this is standard for ADTR, but compared to a lot of what comes after, it’s certainly an album highlight.
The other track doing work on the record is hit single, “Mindreader.” Unlike the album opener, “Mindreader” shows off what I think the band was going for with this album—a pop-heavy, accessible brand of their earlier music. Keeping ahold of their staple aggression through rugged vocals and subtle but grimy guitars, the band makes everything a little brighter; a little smoother. The chorus pops, the song breezes by without a formal breakdown, and overall it’s an acceptable rock song.
When it comes to the rest of the album, it’s a lot of the same story. Many tracks fall into the pitfalls of certain contemporary rock music—opting for Imagine Dragons mimicry with echoing cheers on songs like “Bloodsucker,” and weird, AWOLNATION-esque, western guitars on “Looks Like Hell.” Others just don’t fit into the realm the rest of the record constructs—”Only Money” is a respectable song about the reality of money’s effects on relationships, that just doesn’t fit with any of the thirteen other songs. And some feel like B-sides thrown in for extra length, or tailor-made for specific audiences—though it’s catchy, “F.Y.M.” is just a little boring, and I can’t think of a good reason for “Viva La Mexico” to exist, outside of capturing the country’s audience. Very few moments, let-alone tracks, shine during this period.
The final, cherry-on-top of the album’s disappointments though, is the usage of breakdowns outside of a few instances (like the aforementioned “Brick Wall”). Despite the poppier aesthetic they carry throughout the record, they hang onto their hardcore roots with desperation, resulting in many songs that feature breakdowns—or just harsher moments—when they really don’t need to. “Bloodsucker” is the biggest example, as it attempts to utilize the juxtaposition between soft, acoustic guitar and intense, electronic pandemonium, but comes off as fractured and a little sporadic. Other songs, like “Degenerates,” do a little better job, but still have an awkward distance between their new and old sounds.
With its pretty hot start, A Day to Remember’s You’re Welcome makes some promises it can’t keep. The album’s pop-hardcore balance rarely finds a healthy middle. The modern rock trends they do steal are all overdone and unnecessary. And for a couple of these tracks I have to stop and ask “what were they thinking?”