Tackling issues such as mental health and toxic masculinity, the Brighton pop-punk outfit are not holding back on this one.
If you think you’ll get your standard pop-punk record with The Great Depression, you are greatly mistaken. This third studio album from Brighton quartet As It Is takes their signature sound and delves into the realms of indie, pop and even metalcore.
As you listen to the record from start to finish there’s always something new to discover, be it the hard-hitting lyrics of The Stigma, or the metal elements of The Wounded World. “This record started off life as an exploration of the question ‘Do we as a society have a fetish for mental illness?’” explains frontman Patty Walters; “Do we romanticise or glorify a sickness? It was important for me to do some soul-searching around that question. Are we part of a scene that actually does more damage than good in terms of the way we talk about these issues?”
The twelve track album produced by the band and Gene “Machine” Freeman (Four Year Strong, The Amity Affliction) kicks off with a bang shouting “Hello, consumer!” at the listener. The album’s title track is a call to arms, its infectious melody is both parts upbeat and emo which is the perfect intro to what’s to come. With The Wounded World continues with a similar attitude, slightly faster in pace and sounded more desperate it does tug at our jetblack hearts and raise our white flags up, surrendering to the catchy melody.
As It Is are here to make a statement, and no song does it better than The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry). It starts off slow and mellow, with Patty Walters’ soft vocals talking about being told to keep it together, because boys don’t cry. Then the chorus hits you right in the face with relentless drums and pleading vocals. Not only is this track a mirror on our society’s perception of masculinity but it also perfectly showcases Walters’ incredible vocal range – from soft pop sounds to fierce metalcore screams that will pierce your heart.
The Handwritten Letter is probably the one track on The Great Depression that most reminds of the band’s last record okay. with its very pop-punk feel and desperately romantic lyrics. Featuring Underoath’s Aaron Gillespie, The Reaper shows a more hard-hitting side of As It Is. It’s melodic but gritty, the metal influences clearly show without alienating from the band’s signature sound.
On the complete other end of the As It Is spectrum you’ll find The Haunting. Who doesn’t like a few synths with a catchy tune? As far as main-stream goes, this is by far the poppiest track on the album, and while it’s not a bad track at all, it seems a tad out of place.
The Hurt, The Hope marks one of the slower songs on The Great Depression. There’s an eerie emo feel to it that really hit you right in the feels. Fittingly the album finishes with a track called The End. The band explained that the record took a new turn when Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington took his own life. “What happened with Chester really shaped the direction of the story,” adds Langford-Biss. “In the week after that we wrote the song The End, a track about how we’re always being encouraged to speak out about what ails us, but especially in the case of Chester who was so open in both his lyrics and away from music, often people aren’t really listening.”
Across The Great Depression, As It Is take us on a journey of self reflection and reflection on society. “I definitely want people to hear this record and think hard about these issues generally and also how they specifically impact their lives,” Walters explains. “Take social media as a popular example. We’re sold things algorithmically that make us unhappy – it’s constant scrolling, it’s not about contact. We as a society are creating platforms that create misery. But we all use those services so it’s us who need to take accountability and work together to fix this. We wanted to really open the conversation up and not just offer a bunch of empty slogans.”
It’s easy to dismiss As It Is as “just another pop-punk band that the kids listen to” but here’s what you’re missing: In a world where the younger generations struggle to find their place, struggle with mental health issues and societal pressures, it’s bands like this and albums like The Great Depression that present not only an escape but a safety net of understanding, a platform of expression and the feeling of belonging. And more so, it’s an album that should make us all look a little closer at societal norms and at each other to really mean it when we ask how our friends are doing.