Music Monday: As It Is-Okay Album Review
UK Pop-Rockers As It Is released their sophomore album on January 20 and it takes everything they created with their debut with the addition of deeper lyrics, catchier instrumentals, and more. Their debut, Never Happy Ever After, created a sound that was fresh to the genre, but at the same time something fans of pop rock would find difficult not to enjoy. Their second record, Okay, takes all this and improves upon it. Just by one listen it can be heard that As It Is took their time to create the best lyrics and instrumentals possible.
The album follows a theme of catchy, upbeat songs with somber lyrics. Without paying attention to the lyrics, a listener could assume the album follows happy themes, but that is not the case. There are deep topics that vocalist, Patty Walters, clearly had personal inspirations for. These inspirations make this album sound rawer and with more emotion than the previous.
The band formed in 2012 in Brighton, England and is made up of lead vocalist Patty Walters, Benjamin Langford-Biss, guitar and vocals, Patrick Foley, drums, Andy Westhead, guitar, and Ali Testo, bass.
Okay begins with “Pretty Little Distance,” which instrumentally sounds like the As It Is fans know and love, but with lyrics that create a whole new listening experience. It’s an upbeat and catchy pop punk song, instrumentally, with lyrics that describe what the album as a whole is about. It’s about how life throws twists and turns all the time and that bad things are always bound to happen. The lyrics, “Ain’t life swell from a pretty little distance?” implies that the way we live our lives, there will always be tragedy and heartbreak.
“Until I Return” is a track that follows a similar formula as “Pretty Little Distance” does because of how the lyrics are written. “I promise I’ll fight but I can’t promise I’ll be fine.” They explain that it’s okay not to be okay, which is another huge theme found across this record. These lyrics also explain the theme behind all the personal stories Walters is telling through each song. The fact that this track is towards the end shows contrast between with “Pretty Little Distance” and this one.
All the tracks on this record have some sort of personal experience that is written about, but there are two that stand out the most in what they are about. “Hey Rachel” and “Austen” are those two songs. “Hey Rachel” is written about Walters’ sister and how he could have been a better brother during a difficult time in her life. Meanwhile, “Austen” is a song written about Biss’s grandfather being hospitalized and his experience seeing him in that state.
Walters experimented with more topics on Okay such as relationships and being trapped within his own mind. “Patchwork Love” and “Still Remembering” discuss the topic of love, more specifically the end aspects of a relationship. In “Patchwork Love”, Walters writes about a past relationship and how even though they are not together anymore, he won’t forget or regret it and he asks her to do the same. “I won’t forget you, I won’t regret…All I ask, my one request/Don’t forget me, don’t regret me.”
“Still Remembering” is a bit different because it is not as clearly defined as “Patchwork Love”, but the lyrics discuss a lot about endings. “When you left, not without warnings or regrets/Nothing would fill this hole in my chest/Bid your farewell…So my love, goodbye.” These lyrics make it the perfect way to end the record, combined with the fact that it’s the most acoustic song. Instrumentally and lyrically, the album is being wrapped up with this track.
The topic of being mentally stuck was another idea that Walters struggled with because it made its way into some songs as well. “No Way Out” and “Soap” are two tracks that exemplify it perfectly. The lyrics in “No Way Out” explain this topic clearer than on “Soap”, but both still get the idea across in their own unique ways. In “No Way Out,” Walters experiments with some screaming vocals that work well with the song as it makes the lyrics stand out as more meaningful to him. “I shut my eyes, but my world's still burning/I can't escape, I feel it killing me/No way out.”
“Soap” is a bit different, not only in the fact that the lyrics are more cryptic than straightforward, but because instrumentally, it is the most unique. The verses have a unique style in the way the vocals interact with the instrumentals. The vocals are mixed with a slight screaming to pair with the raw emotion created through Walters’ lyrics. “This will only take a lifetime/To bury me as deep as troubled is your mind/I'm sinking deeper into your head/I'm the lie you live in, every thought you dread.”
Every track on this record is wonderful and Okay is an album that doesn’t disappoint in any way. The instrumentals follow a pop punk sound, but have twists that make certain songs stand out and lyrics that are meaningful and personal in all of the best ways. This record is more than just a listening experience; it is an experience that makes the listener really think, while still enjoying the upbeat pop punk tunes.
Allison Wulfhorst is a freshman majoring in Journalism. To contact her, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.