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Never Happy, Ever After
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  • Audio Mixer: James Paul Wisner .
  • Photographer: Felicia Simon.
  • Arranger: As It Is.
  • Since launching in 2012 behind the musical ambitions of frontman Patty Walters, British pop-punk quintet As It Is have put in the hours, clawing their way to a deal with California-based Fearless Records (becoming the first U.K. band to do so) over the course of four self-released EPs. With several European tours under their belt and a trip to the States to record with producer James Paul Wisner (Paramore, Dashboard Confessional, Underoath) in Florida, they've poised themselves for international success with their debut LP Never Happy, Ever After. Citing early-2000s emo bands like Taking Back Sunday and the Starting Line as major influences, they offer up 11 tracks that are cathartic, yet overwhelmingly friendly and immediately accessible. Employing a tried and true call and response vocal interplay between Walters' spunky tenor and singer/guitarist Benjamin Biss' ragged shout, they wind their way through an emo landscape of broken relationships, self-doubt, and desperation in a style that is generally more pop than punk. Songs like "Speak Soft" and "Sorry" are radio-ready jams with big melodic choruses and hooks for days that easily recall pop-punk's mainstream heyday. There are some introspective midtempo tracks like "Drowning Deep in Doubt" and "Silence (Pretending's So Comfortable)," and even a couple of ballads like the acoustic "My Oceans Were Lakes" and album-closer "You, the Room, & the Devil on Your Shoulder." The music is a bit too polished at times, and even at their loudest, the band hardly feels very dangerous. Never Happy, Ever After doesn't necessarily break any new ground, but As It Is do what they do well, delivering a warm, sincere slice of emo comfort. ~ Timothy Monger
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