The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

Don't You Fake It

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The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus sounds nearly like what would result should Hawthorne Heights and Hoobastank have a love child. Basically alternative rock with occasional screamo tendencies, their slick and accessible debut, Don't You Fake It, comes ready for radio airwaves, while remaining just abrasive enough for the Warped Tour stage. Despite having a completely ridiculous band name, RJA is a competent group and their music is pleasant enough. But unfortunately, look past the gloss and too much of the record just sounds like the quintet copping many of their contemporaries (Story of the Year, Jimmy Eat World, the Used, etc.) instead of creating a sound to call their own. "In Fate's Hands" layers on the crunching riffs and urgent drumbeats, contrasting singer Ronnie Winter's smooth delivery against harsh background and gang vocals. As the lead track, the song actually turns out to be one of the record's strongest moments, one upped only by the album's dark first single, "Face Down." The track defiantly stares domestic abuse in the face with swirling guitars and a hooky chorus that proclaims, "Do you feel like a man when you push her around?/Do you feel better now as she falls to the ground?" The song is such a standout, however, that the rest of Don't You Fake It sounds more like a vehicle for that one song than a cohesive album. It's not that the band has to create something entirely new, as memorable songs can still be crafted out of recycled elements; but this is where the band stumbles. Quieter moments supply some break from the album's steadfast urgency -- as in the confessional "Cat and Mouse" and the power ballad "Your Guardian Angel" -- and Winter's voice does bring some needed maturity to the table. But unfortunately, it's all not quite enough to wash out the generic taste left in one's mouth by the end. The band may not be faking anything, but even earnestness isn't always enough.

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