On face value As It Is offer a case of “if isn’t broken, why fix it?” And you can’t blame them as 2015’s debut, ‘Never Happy, Ever After’, broke the UK Top 40 followed by a host of touring and festival opportunities. Their sophomore effort, ‘okay.’, is front loaded with a handful of hooks so infectious, it’s almost nauseating. ‘Pretty Little Distance’ leads the way and is straight out of the All Time Low school of pop-rock songwriting. While the title track and ‘Patchwork Love’ keep the momentum going by being thoroughly upbeat.
Stylistically, As It Is certainly lean on the poppy end of the pop-punk bubble they’re so often placed in. Throughout Patty Walters leads the way with his familiar marmite-like voice that bounces off Benjamin Biss’ backing vocals with ease. Whereas the rest of the band stick to an accessible formula; guitar-driven and punchy drum work.
Beyond the irresistible hooks, the Brighton based group show they have a conscience. Songs such as ‘Hey Rachael’ and ‘Curtain Close’ are carried with lyrical sincerity. The core message of everything is not what it seems but it will get better is emphasised on ‘No Way Out’. Led by Walters and Biss’ inner frustrations, it builds to the point that sees Walters speak passionately about his mental health issues. It delivers a heavy dose of reality to As It Is’ often too polished sound.
’Soap’ hints at a stylistic departure, providing a slice of intense rock; whispered vocals and edgier instrumentation. Likewise, a distorted bass line welcomes ‘Austen’, adding a gritty layer to proceedings before easing into their usual bright pop-punk sound.
With ‘okay.’, As It Is have proven their worth. They’ve honed the art of writing fun hooks with hints of progression, yet they too often stay in their comfort zone; the token acoustic ballad (‘Still Remembering’) closes the album. Nevertheless, the admirable, raw songwriting approach gives As It Is something to build on going forward.
‘okay. by As It Is is released on 20th January on Fearless Records.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)