Set to be released on August 10th from Fearless Records/Caroline Australia, ‘The Great Depression’ is the newest offering from four-piece British pop-punk band, As It Is. The four piece is led by vocalist Patty Walters, with Ben Langford-Biss on guitar, Alistair Testo on bass, and drummer Patrick Foley. This album challenges and addresses the stigma of mental health and toxic masculinity in today’s society.
First up is the title track, The Great Depression and right from the get-go there’s the tell-tale signs of a band changing their sound. While As It Is are known for their more bubble-gum pop-punk sound, this is very different from their previous two albums, 2016’s Okay, and 2014’s Never Happy, Ever After. There are heavier influences that are getting their chance to show, and Patty’s vocals are more gravelly and aggressive.
The Wounded World is next and was the first single released from ‘The Great Depression’ when the album was announced. While there are tinges of ‘Okay’ in this track, there are also the heavier sounds again. ‘We’re all to blame for the wounded world’ is repeated throughout the track as a gang vocal, and lyrically the track is about how damaged the world currently is and how everyone is to blame for it. There’s a breakdown in the track at around the 2:05 mark where the guitars get heavy and Patty’s hardcore screaming vocals kick in, showing off both his, and the band’s versatility.
Track three is The Fire, The Dark and it’s a very rocky track from start to finish. Walters and Langford-Biss share the vocal duties throughout this track, with Langford-Biss doing most of the screaming vocals, and Walters doing the clean. There’s a heavy bass influence in this track with Testo getting to showcase his impressive technical ability with his instrument.
The second single released from the album is The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry), and that’s up next. The main aim of this track and video is to tackle the toxic masculinity in our society, as well as our romanticism of mental health. This message is really pushed in the lyrics of The Stigma, with the chorus ‘Stay strong, hold on, you gotta keep it together now. Just dry your eyes, coz boys don’t cry.’
The Handwritten Letter is track five and musically it’s a lot of drums and bass for the first 35 seconds before the guitar comes in. Each instrument compliments each other perfectly in this track and Walter’s vocals really bring it all together. There’s a bit more of the typical pop-punk sound that As It Is are known for in this one, but there are still definitely heavier notes throughout.
The first of the ‘slower’ tracks is track six, The Question, The Answer. Walters really gets his chance to show off his impressive vocals throughout, and his voice is incredibly calming and he hits quite a few high notes. It’s a refreshing change from the heaviness of the previous tracks on the album, but it’s also really well placed. Around the halfway mark of an album is a good spot to slow it down in.
Featuring guest vocals from Underoath’s Aaron Gillespie, track seven is The Reaper. It’s an immediate change of pace from the slow The Question, The Answer and the heaviness seen throughout the rest of the album is back. In an interview Overdrive conducted with Walters, he stated that the guest vocal part was written with Gillespie in mind and what made it one of his favourite tracks on the album was that Gillespie recorded the vocal himself and changed the harmonies to better suit his voice.
Fading straight out from the previous track, The Two Tongues (Screaming Salvation) fades in on what sounds like an old radio with a female voice before the music starts. The breakdowns of the guitars in this track are definitely more post-hardcore than anything and this is overall one of the heavier tracks on the album. There are again vocals parts from Walters and Langford-Biss, this time with Walters taking the lead, and Langford-Biss harmonizing in the background.
The Truth I’ll Never Tell is next and in the lyrics has the first outright mention of mental health. The song talks about not wanting to open up to people about your suffering with mental health for fear of ‘bringing them down, down, down.’ It could be viewed as an answer to the track Hey Rachel from their previous album, in which Walters was apologising to his sister for not supporting her when she was dealing with mental health. It also really gets in on the fears that people suffering with mental health have in regards to not wanting to open up about their struggles for fear of judgement.
Track nine is The Haunting and true to its title is haunting in the shared vocals between Langford-Biss and Walters, and musically from Testo and Foley. The drums and bass complement each other really well in this track and it’s really cohesive in terms of sound. Each instrument and member get’s their chance to show off here. It’s a stand-out track for me.
The Hurt, The Hope is the second to last track of ‘The Great Depression’ and is the second slower song on the album. The song features piano in parts of the first half, before the heavier drums and bass come in. ‘It’s gotta get better’ is the focus lyric during the chorus and is a further message to those suffering from mental health. No matter how hard it is right now, no matter what you’re going through, it’s gotta get better.
Fittingly, the final track of this album is The End. The band has a very strong connection with mental health, both personally and with their friends and fans. The main message of this album is to encourage people to talk about their mental health issues, and to not feel embarrassed about it. It’s about encouraging people to listen to each other and to be supporting. ‘Nobody’s listening’ is repeated over and over throughout the chorus of this final track. It’s a great note to end on and will hopefully serve as encouragement to listeners to talk about their struggles, and to listen to their friends when they try to talk to them about it.
‘The Great Depression’ is out August 10th via Fearless Records/Caroline Australia and you can pre-order HERE!