Nostalgia is a universally revered feeling. Depending on when you grew up one song can really take you back to your younger years and make you feel like an old fart. With the current generation there is undoubtedly nostalgia to be gained from listening to early post-hardcore bands, one of those bands being Escape The Fate which formerly featured Ronnie Radke as their frontman.
Fast-forward 10 years ahead and Ronnie has, for the most part, left his eventful past behind and with his rejuvenation he has become a much more experimental & wacky guy than his past self. Now fronting Nevada-based group Falling In Reverse Ronnie’s most recent songwriting efforts, in the form of new record Just Like You, not only bring the word ‘nostalgia’ into the forefront of his ideas, but also continue the genre-defying nature of Falling In Reverse’s newer material. This melding of ideas and colliding worlds isn’t anything to be afraid of either, thankfully. It is moreso a cause for celebration, especially if you love anything Ronnie has musically been a part of prior.
Right off the bat with the immensely catchy pop-punk guitar lick that takes “Chemical Prisoner”‘s melodies to the skies it is evident that Ronnie looked to his roots for this album. In addition to sounding sonically familiar to any avid follower of Mr. Radke’s older work, some songs blatantly act as lyrical successors to specific songs. “Sexy Drug”‘s provocative rock n’ roll is more than a little bit reminiscent of Situations featuring rapped verses that bring to mind “Pick Up The Phone”. “Chemical Prisoner”‘s lyrical content concerning substance abuse and the struggled path of a Rockstar may as well act as a direct sequel to “The Webs We Weave”. “Wait and See”‘s swaggering rap, chugging breakdowns, and over-the-top all-as-one chorus will have you remembering Alone immediately. Yes, plenty of clever call-backs can be heard throughout the record, most obviously the lyrically literal numbered sequels to “The Guillotine” and “My Apocalypse”. But that isn’t to say that we aren’t hearing anything new – On the contrary.
Falling In Reverse’s success and big name in the rock world no doubt comes from the frontman, but it needs to be pointed out that the passionate instrumentalists behind the band’s memorable songs are hardly rivaled. If you’re into shred guitar then you’ve no doubt heard mention of Jacky Vincent’s prowess, which is on full display here, more than ever. “The Bitter End” shows that notion best featuring multiple solos, heavy riffs & room-shaking breakdowns. Jacky is prominently featured, but so are his cohorts. Ryan has grown into his drum kit, with fast, thrashy fills, avid bass pedal usage and a tendency to groove. The bass guitar is beautifully everywhere and shreds just as much as Jacky & Derek do. With their growing skill-set the members of Falling In Reverse have crafted a sound uniquely their own that has never shown quite as well as it does on Just Like You.
Though ‘consistent’ is an accurate word to describe the sound of the songs on the record, ‘ambitious’ works just as well. “My Heart’s To Blame” is an R&B-esque track that features one of the most somber refrains in Falling In Reverse’s discography. “Die For You” is balls-to-the-wall insane, featuring a thrashy bridge and a catchy delivery of both unclean and clean vocals, resulting in an absolute barrage. Pray provides a sense of hope and progression for Ronnie’s actions and with it the most powerful chorus of his career. “Get Me Out” is the most upbeat track the band have produced and its relate-able nature will more than likely make it a huge hit among newcomers and established fans alike. Of course an album that doesn’t feature a left-field surprise isn’t one that will have too many talking, and “Brother” is Just Like You‘s response to that statement. The song, detailing the passing of Ronnie’s brother, is empty, soul-crushing and vulnerable. Backed by little more than a piano, your tear-ducts may receive more than a bit of exercise.
What should most be revered about Just Like You however is just how real and accessible it is. The album title signifys the idea that through the topics written about Ronnie is showing that he undergoes struggles and trials just as any one of us do. Through that relatability comes honesty and self-reflection, and with it the most mature record Falling In Reverse have written, despite the youth and energy the band portrays through their music.
In case anyone needs a refresher course Falling In Reverse are notorious for catchy, entertaining music with its fair share of exuberance. With Just Like You, FIR have defined their wide sound, a task that seemed impossible on Fashionably Late. Though Just Like You is a bit less polarizing and schizophrenic than that record, but still more all over the place than The Drug In Me Is You. It does blend the pop-rock, hip hop and post-hardcore of both those records with a bit more songwriting meat, which is an impressive feat for a third record. It’s unpredictable what direction album #4 could take Falling In Reverse, and I mean that as an utter compliment. We were already on the edge of our seats with the release of this one. No slowing down for conductor Ronnie Radke and his hype train of followers/haters.