This week’s requested record is Don’t You Fake It by pop/punk band Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Being the band’s debut and my first introduction my expectations weren’t awfully high, despite the strange, arbitrary name implying something a little quirky and inventive. And as I, unfortunately, steal away my friend’s hope that I would find something of value here, ultimately what I got was a plain slice of pop emo.
RJA fit all too well into the fray of pop/punk bands that dominated the mid-2000s who were trying to sound dark and “emo.” The sound they go for is executed well enough but rather than gleam from personal inspiration or a genuine pursuit of their own identity it feels entirely by the books. The first listen may be a catchy and even enjoyable affair but multiple spins only dim that experience. For example, “Face Down” was the big single and subsequent highlight on initial listen but there’s nothing that begs for more than two rotations.
Don’t You Fake It is just that, fake. It lacks the much needed human touch emo is known for (see Jimmy Eat World or The Hotelier). The record touches on themes of abuse, resentment, and regret lyrically and if the accompanying music handed them some weight this would have been a much stronger project. I wouldn’t feel the urge to be so harsh if their subsequent releases showcased some growth and a willingness to forge their own sound but they only present more of the same (and in some cases become even worse). Fans of Mayday Parade or Yellowcard may find something to enjoy here but when those bands are so much better I wouldn’t recommend spending time on this.