It can be a pretty damn hard uphill battle to stay relevant in todays music scene. The tastes of people seems to so flippantly change on a whim, solely based on ‘what’s hot in the moment’ versus ‘what’s not’ (which in extension is based on a pop culture related biased more than anything else). Today’s metal head is tomorrows biggest hip-hop fan. Pushing past those boundaries lies mostly with the individual or band writing and releasing their music, and their fans utter loyalties. But it is not based on this premise alone. The band must be creative, if not in the way they stylize their music, if for the way in which they use their music to reach their fans passion for it all. Sometimes this means switching up the standard formula you may have followed for so long, and sometimes it’s perfecting even more what you’ve already executed so precisely with each and every release before. You still have to find a way to do this though that it feels fresh as opposed to being a constant rehash of all that’s been done before, and that is exactly what Mayday Parade have done with their upcoming release, Sunnyland. The sentiment behind the album’s title is depicted perfectly on the cover with a scenic forested area, mostly in the dark with a sliver of sun trying to poke through the haze of clouds. This picture almost screaming ‘I believe there’s happiness out there, now I just have to find it’.
The first taste the world was graced with hearing was entitled “Piece Of Your Heart”, which offered a slice of happiness and hopefulness, all tailored up with that classic Mayday heartfelt emo touch. Beginning with an upbeat guitar (that’s subtly laced with a sense of longing) which is quickly paired up with a steady beating drum and vocalist Derek Sanders swooning vocals, the song speaks to a love most cherished and pure. A man whom would take every ounce of pain and suffering of his loved ones to save her from the heartbreak, even if it meant the burden would be passed to him. In the first chorus the listener will begin to wonder though if this love is truly forever; ‘I’ve got a piece of your heart, but I want the whole damn thing!’. It isn’t until the bridge that you finally discover this was a pairing that was not meant to last. Sanders speaks to the fact that even though you can live a life after a relationship ends, there will always be the one(s) which you will carry with you until the end of your days. While reading this you may be thinking ‘well isn’t that just another breakup song?’, when in fact it’s the contrary. Although this did not last forever, this song sends a message of hope. Hope that you’ve taken a bit of the positive side of what’s transgressed with you, and that one day you will find that true love once again.
Sunnyland is fairly riddled with more acoustic tracks than normal on a Mayday Parade record, but more than anything else that contributes to the overall theme of the album, and sonically sets up the story better than if there were fewer. “Where You Are” is a heavily acoustic guitar song, but with so many layered harmonies and melodies that it’s far from simplistic or boring. In fact, much like previously stated, it furthered the almost magnificent sadness behind the seeming plot of the song. This is a song about the one that got away. A cliched and played out premise in general, but this songs soulful lyrics and perfectly executed musicianship which is tailored to the songs core sentiment are the elements which set it apart from the rest. “My favorite place is where ever you are, but I don’t know where you are”. It almost crushes every vein which pumps blood out of your heart to hear these words, especially for those who have experienced this sort of loss, and yet the song has the ability of providing those listeners solace in the fact that they’re not alone.
Have you ever wondered what Mayday Parade might sound like if they were a weary road travelling folk band? YOU HAVE?? THEN YOU’RE IN LUCK!! Sunnyland brings to the listeners the first ever (what seems to be/sounds like) a folk rock inspired track. And that genre inspired sound couldn’t fit the subject matter of “Always Leaving” any more perfectly. The songs lyrics almost sound as if they’re a homage to everyone and everything the band leaves behind when they hit the road. One could only imagine that driving and flying all over the world, with possibly only a laptop and cellphone to keep you connected to what’s back home must take an insanely harsh toll on one’s heart and soul. Children grow up and you couldn’t be there to bare witness to their first steps. Your favorite pizza joint closed down to make way for a new condo. Your closest loved ones have grown older and you have no idea how because it feels like you’ve only just left. And every single time you cross that threshold into your own home, you have to turn right back around again to hit the dusty trails. You have to love what you do in an incredible way in order to make these sorts of sacrifices. Complete with a finger-plucked acoustic guitar and layered with a twangy solo-esque bit between choruses and verses, this is a folk inspired song with that classic Mayday Parade sound.
What helps a band always stay relevant, especially after peoples flip-flopping tastes and to boot years of being on the scene is to always find a true, from the heart way of connecting with your fans. Sometimes it takes a whole album to do so, but then there’s those rare occasions that it only takes a singular song. That one track that absolutely anyone, almost no matter who or where they are in this world of ours, can relate to. If there had to be that one song on Sunnyland it is without a doubt the title track. It would be beyond a challenge to find almost a single solitary soul on Earth that doesn’t reminisce about the ‘better days’, the ‘good ‘ol days’. Sometimes this memorial if you will, could be inspired by hearing a song that brings you back to that one time at camp when you were a kid. That certain smell that just reminds you of mom’s cooking after coming in from playing outside. Or perhaps you’re simply going through that rough and tumble time and it’s all you wish you could have again. “Sunnyland” is truly the most universally relatable song on the entire album, and it’s done with compassion not only for the bands own memories but those of their fans as well. In a word the song is beautiful, and this song will be many a fans favorite.
To stay relevant and loved in almost any aspect can seem to be a tall order on any day. No matter what anyone does, there always seems to be something or someone out there that has done something grander or greater then you ever have or could. But to strive through that hardship is what truly makes anyone or anything a mainstay in anyone else’s world. Mayday Parade has had a following almost since the very beginning of their inception which has helped to support the fact that almost no matter what they will be a household name until their very last note. It’s because of the fact that the band plays and writes everything from the very cores of their hearts that any listener knows that their music comes from somewhere true and pure. It’s this very reason the band continues to effortlessly hold this coveted bond with their fans that so many other groups sadly seem to come up short on. Sunnyland is an album that isn’t just a carbon copy of every past release, but a combination of all resulting in a harmonious masterpiece. When it comes to Mayday Parade their fans can be almost vicious with anticipation for new tunes, and the day after the release of any album they’re already salivating for more. Well the wait is almost over, and soon every single fan can rejoice in a Sunnyland all of their own. And this album will assuredly satiate even the direst of the bands most dedicated followers.