The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus had a difficult task on their hands a few years ago when they were set to release the follow-up to their 2006 breakthrough album Don't You Fake It. After the widespread success that album got them, the stakes were high for their sophomore album to solidify their status in the scene. What happened, however, wasn't what was planned. Lonely Road was released to fairly overwhelming negative reactions, and lead single "You Better Pray" was even worse, due to it's drastic shift in genre from the screamo stylings of Don't You Fake It to a more radio-friendly modern rock sound. Years later, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus return with Am I The Enemy, trying again to reclaim the throne of relevancy they once held so tightly to.
Swing and a miss. Am I The Enemy comes off as an uninspired carbon copy of Lonely Road, with a few attempts at winning fans back with occasional Don't You Fake It-isms. These sparse moments of nostalgia can't save the record, however. On the opener "Salvation", a semi-electronic intro leads into vocalist Ronnie Winter crooning over a huge chorus. Winter's vocals have a very apparent sound of over-production to them, thanks to mega-producer John Feldmann working behind the kit. We all know Winter is a decent singer, but during "Salvation" his voice sounds far too polished to be the norm. Cliche song titles like "Wake Me Up" and "Don't Lose Hope" accurately portray the music enclosed, and while Winter hasn't always been a master lyricist, it's apparent he hasn't improved much. For a band that has a lot on the line in terms of their career, they almost seem like they're not trying that hard. The album just doesn't have the honesty of their debut.
Taking cues from Craig Owens' latest band D.R.U.G.S., RJA have found their newest sound. Songs like "Dreams" sound almost TOO similar to the aforementioned supergroup to even make a distinction, complete with polished vocals, sludgy guitar riffs, and a catchy (read: simple) chorus. Not all songs are bad, however. Winter still has a knack for ballads, which is apparent the introspective and slow-building "Dive Too Deep", while rocker "Where Are the Heroes?" proves that somewhere, the band still has what it takes to sculpt a really solid rock number. It's on songs like the title track, where they do their best Hoobastank impression, where RJA falters. The biggest misstep, arguably, would be lead single "Reap". Winter deserves a bit of kudos for at least attempting something different in the opening verses by trying a different vocal approach (mindless yelling), but the result just sounds awkward.
This album may just be a huge hit, who knows. With half the crap that kids eat up these days, this (being superior to most of it) would sit comfortably in the collections of many if given the chance. However, it wouldn't be for the same reasons. Instead of passionate screamo/alternative, we get generic mainstream rock, interchangeable in most UFC/MMA commercials and comfortably positioned on tours with Sick Puppies or something. Times change. Carry on.
3. Wake Me Up
4. Am I The Enemy
6. Dive Too Deep
7. Where Are The Heroes?
8. Angel in Disguise
9. Don't Lose Hope
10. Fall From Grace
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus is a pop rock band that was originally formed in 2003 in Middleburg, Florida, about 30 miles south west of Jacksonville. The current members of the band are Ronnie Winter, the lead vocalist, Joey Westwood, bassist, Duke Kitchens, guitarist, and Jon Wilkes, drummer, all of whom do back-up vocals.... read more