“Na na na na, I’m aware I am an asshole” chirps Ronnie Radke seconds into the perky title track of the third Falling In Reverse album, Just Like You (Epitaph); a relevant self-aware line for the people who find the former Escape The Fate frontman a hurdle to get over in and of himself. While some won’t listen to Megadeth because of Dave Mustaine’s crazy-ass bollock spouting (rather than the valid reason they haven’t done anything worthwhile for 25 years), liking Falling in Reverse shouldn’t mean forgiving or condoning his actions, as there has to be a separation between the man and the band.
Because, while Just Like You is not the album where Radke and his compadres grow up, it is the one where they produce a convincing, enjoyable slice of modern pop-rock fun and catchy metalcore.
‘Chemical Prisoner’, an energetic tune that recalls A at their best, kicks things off as the opening quartet of tunes of the album bring the sun and the fun, with staccato rock bouncing shoulder to shoulder with pop sensibilities. There are dashes of My Chemical Romance as spirited verses drop to half-time anthemic choruses, while English lead guitarist Jackie Vincent shines with a series of Yngwie-esque classical tinged solos. Some of the lyrics are dreadful, and the “OMG! You make me cum!” on ‘Sexy Drug’ will make parents the world over cringe, but the sugary swagger, the hook-filled rapid-vocal delivery in the verses and the festival-friendly chorus more than make up for it.
There’s plenty of looking to the big hitters for influence as ‘Just Like You’ could be Blink 182 jamming with Fall Out Boy while choruses throughout point to Def Leppard and Warrant albums in the collection. Elsewhere, ‘Guillotine IV’ and ‘The Bitter End’ showcase the other side of Falling… as they head back to beatdown town and out Asking Alexandria Asking Alexandria as they churn through the metalcore, but never at the expense of the chorus or the song. ‘My Heart’s To Blame’ is a slower, more considered number, not a million miles away from some of the more thoughtful moments of Sempiternal (RCA/Epitaph), and ‘Wait and See’ flits from Eminem to King 810 to Panic! At The Disco, further showing the diversity on offer.
What is interesting is that, while the grind of a track like ‘Die For You’ spices up proceedings and adds an impetus, where Falling In Reverse truly shine is when they cast off the trappings of trying to hang with the heavy, and let the pop rock bravado shine through. These guys can write hits, and while they could be a great rock band, they’re not much better than average when they do their metalcore thang – it makes you wonder if they’re trying to prove something that doesn’t need proving.
However, when all is said and done, Just Like You is a swag-bag full of new toys for their hordes of teenage fans to sing along and lose their shit to, and I have a feeling Ronnie and the boys are going to do pretty damn well out of it, thank you very much.