The Afters approached their sophomore release as if they had nothing to lose -- as if they were still undiscovered bandmates serving lattes at Starbucks in Mesquite, Texas. In reality, however, expectations for the foursome following their landmark debut could hardly be higher. Their melodic hit "Beautiful Love" had led them on an impressive run -- it was featured on MTV's 8th and Ocean and was one of the most downloaded inspirational tracks in 2006. Combine that with their Best New Artist nod at the Dove Awards, and the band underwent a metamorphosis from unknown to unavoidable. Never Going Back to OK touches on this theme, suggesting that a similar transformation from ordinary to extraordinary is part of each believer's journey. The album, a cross between Switchfoot's The Beautiful Letdown and Sanctus Real's The Face of Love, adds a great depth to the Afters' repertoire with deeply palpable modern rock ballads like "Oceans Wide" and "Summer Again." But the core of the album is a steady dose of radio-ready rock, from the powerful essence of "Keeping Me Alive" to the urgency of "Tonight." Without straying too far from their roots, the Afters distanced themselves from the pack with this record.
AllMusic Review by Jared Johnson