There was a period of time when singsongy punk-pop and emo were two separate styles -- especially when each initially gained popularity in the late '90s. But sometime during the early 21st century, both styles collided together for many new groups -- case in point, Four Year Strong. Hailing from Worcester, MA, this quintet (comprised of two singer/guitarists -- Alan Day and Dan O'Conner -- plus bassist Joe Weiss, synth twiddler Josh Lyford, and drummer Jake Massucco) never met a tuneful melody it didn't like, as evidenced throughout its full-length debut, 2007's Rise or Die Trying. It would be understandable if the band were quickly labeled as "tricky yet sticky-sweet punk-pop" given its affinity for anthemic choruses and abrupt music shifts -- but there are a few surprises lurking around the corner. Cases in point, "Prepare to Be Digitally Manipulated" packs a surprise hardcore left hook midway through, and "Abandon Ship or Abandon All Hope" features some subtle Rentals-esque synth maneuvers. It was only a matter of time until punk-pop swerved into other styles, and Four Year Strong's Rise or Die Trying signals this shift.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Prato