Album Review: As It Is - okay

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If you ask anyone who isn’t into the alternative music scene what they thought, their responses would vary, but it would be the same train of thought just with slight phrasing differences. “It’s depressing.” Or: “It’s too angsty, you aren’t sixteen anymore.” And yet, that’s exactly what drew me to it in the first place. And that’s what drew me to As It Is. I’m sure I’m not the only one who searches for artists and songs that make me feel less alone, and that’s what their new album ‘Okay.’ is. It’s a hand to hold and remind you that it’s okay not to be okay—and that’s the beauty of it. Since their debut in 2015 (Never Happy, Ever After), As It Is have become a prominent figure in modern punk, and the attention is well-earned. 

The opening track, “Pretty Little Distance”, with its prominent bass throughout is a song that is so textbook classic punk that it’s impossible to mistake it for anything else. As I was listening to it, I was trying to place exactly what it reminded me of when it hit me: it’s very reminiscent of All Time Low during their ‘Nothing Personal’ era, with a bubble-gum punk feel to it, which makes it immediately great fun to listen to. It’s a great opening track, with a fast melody but a deeper meaning buried a little further in it. 

The album’s namesake track, ‘Okay’ is an immensely powerful track with haunting vocals and brutally honest lyrics (bear that phrase in mind, it’ll probably come back later)—it’s a great taster that even though ‘Pretty Little Distance’ could have been cheerful, that’s not what the album is with the beginning lines: “I don’t know if I’ve been worse/I don’t know if I can change”, reminding you that no matter how cheerful these songs appear to be on the surface, the album will be pretty far from sunshine and rainbows. And, just like The Wonder Years tell a story with each album, each album building from the last one—this is exactly what As It Is have achieved—creating a follow-up album that expands and builds on what they’ve already created, just like creating a universe for a story. Following on from that, ‘Hey Rachel’ has a slightly heavier feel than the preceding songs—with the two vocalists’ voices blending together perfectly. The combination of a fast-paced punk and sad, reflective lyrics make for a truly wonderful addition to the album—about a relationship that’s fallen apart and how easy it is to let your pride get the better of you. The main thought that comes to mind with this song is that it would be great as an acoustic version, maybe on a deluxe version of the album later down the line. 

With every song on this album, I either liked it or loved it and ‘Patchwork Love’ is an example of a song that I loved. You know when you hear a new song and right from the first chord you can just feel that you’ll love it? That’s what happened with this song. The prominent bass and drums here give the song a more mellow feeling, and though not as fast paced as the rest of the album, it’s by no means a criticism. A song full of self-reflection and the fear of not being enough. As I mentioned previously—this song gives the band a perfect chance to flesh out the insecurities and anxieties that were such a vital part of ‘Never Happy, Ever After’, but I think the most poignant thing about this album is that insecurities and anxieties are a natural part of life and sometimes, they don’t go away. And, because of this, it makes the album that much more personal to whoever’s listening to it as everyone will have their own interpretation of the lyrics due to different life experiences, and finally—the piano at the end ties up the song beautifully. 

Finally, let’s take a look at the last track, ‘Still Remembering’. I’m looking at the notes I have for it and it’s about three sentences and none of it seems to do this song justice. The acoustic guitar on this track is a welcome respite from the unrelenting energy that followed every previous song on the record, (with songs like ‘Austin’ and ‘No Way Out’ screaming that they’re songs you’d hear on Warped Tour). It’s a song full of rhetorical questions and the search for acceptance. Nothing I say about this song will quite be able to convey not just how wonderful it is, but just how utterly heart-wrenching it is from start to finish. 

All in all, it’s an album that makes you think—it makes you reflect. Throughout the whole record, you can feel that this is exactly the record the band wanted to make—pride flows through every single note and word. The raw, unadulterated honesty in every song at times feels a little intrusive, as though you’ve stumbled into something incredibly personal and you’re not sure if you have a right to know, but the album also brings with it a sense of togetherness. Sure, you can hear influences from other bands in the same genre—but that’s only natural, but As It Is have created something wonderful. They’ve created an experience. An experience that is meant to be shared with other people. This album takes you onto a whirlwind of emotions and then leaves you feeling a little contemplative, a little drained—but in the same way that a heart-to-heart with a friend leaves you feeling a little drained and relieved that you’ve finally gotten it out of your system.  

Written By
Asya Kardzhaliyska 
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