Released two years after the departure of founding member Jason Lancaster, Anywhere But Here is Mayday Parade's first album for a major label. Lancaster wrote the bulk of the band's debut -- the very album that helped secure Mayday Parade's contract with Atlantic -- and returning fans will likely feel his absence on these 11 tracks. While 2007's Lesson in Romantics found the band vacillating between loud and soft dynamics, Anywhere But Here rarely ventures into either extreme, eschewing the surprises of albums past for a more streamlined, radio-friendly product. The problem is exacerbated by David Bendeth, a hyper-prolific producer who rarely works with bands outside of the emo/punk realm. Accordingly, Mayday Parade is given the same polish as Bendeth's other clients, a move that compresses their distorted guitars and fine-tunes their vocals to the point of sanitation. Anywhere But Here sounds entirely risk-free, and while the band does an adequate job turning out squeaky-clean songs about adolescence and young love, those who championed the group from the start may find themselves hoping for something more dangerous.
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AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey