Review: Mayday Parade – “Sunnyland”
One of the pioneers of this entire scene, Mayday Parade have returned with their sixth studio album “Sunnyland“. The band’s last record “Black Lines” showed a maturity and change in their sound to a more raw, alternative sound. Since then, the band have moved over to Rise Records after being on Fearless Records for their whole career. With that big label move, the band have decided to showcase all of their best qualities on “Sunnyland“. They absolutely create some magic and wonders with this record from start to finish. They really remind fans the reason they fell in love with this band in the first place, while experimenting a little within the record.
The record opens up with “Never Sure”, which I think is an absolutely perfect choice to open up the album. It’s got that classic Mayday sound that fans will welcome once again with open arms. It’s coupled with lyrics that hit hard on the emotional level, while still keeping the energy consistent throughout the song. I look forward to when the band decide to bust this gem out live, it would go over insanely well with fans. It’s followed by “It’s Hard to Be Religious When Certain People Are Never Incinerated By Bolts of Lightning”, which goes back to the band’s full-on pop punk roots. It strikes like a match once the song starts and never lets up until the end. The lyrics also fit the vibe of the song so well, calling out any kind of person who has done you wrong in any sort of fashion. It’s a song that absolutely bangs, and should be another one that goes over well live with their crowds. The energy gets slowed down for a bit with “Piece of Your Heart”, which was released as the lead single from the album. This song absolutely showcases the older, emotional ballad side of Mayday that people have connected with over the years. I think it’s a great summer type of song that you can sing along to and cry as well. It’s lyrics consist of a romantic kind of love that would bloom in something like the summertime. It picks the energy back up with “It’s Nowhere”, which is a song that showcases their ‘Black Lines’ type of sound and combining it with an earlier sound from their first record ‘A Lesson In Romantics. It’s got the riffs, as well as the insane melodies throughout the song to keep your attention until it’s over. Vocalist Derek Sanders really knows how to impress the listener with his vocals on this track, going from raw to wonderfully melodic.
It then shifts to “Take My Breath Away”, the first of few acoustic ballads on the record. The plucking of the acoustic guitar strings going throughout the song really bring life and emotion onto this track. It’s accompanied with great melodies delivered by Derek, making you feel every word being sung. There’s also violin and percussion going throughout the background of the song, which really put the cherry on top of this emotional ballad. It goes back into another full band track, “Stay the Same”. This track really builds up nicely with it’s instruments, going from just a guitar and drums to the full band in the chorus. I think this is the first kind of experimental sound Mayday tries tastefully in a song of theirs. I really enjoy the groove of this song, where it plays nicely between the band’s energy and emotional factor as well. Plus, the background vocals during the choruses add so much more flavor to it. The record reaches it’s midpoint into with “How Do You Like Me Now”, which takes it back into maximum overdrive. This track smacks you right in the face with the raw riff it opens with, along with it’s half-time hook during the chorus, and the heavy bridge it delivers going back into the final chorus. I would deem this one of the highlights of the record, as it would be something new and old fans of the band would enjoy greatly. The record reaches it’s second acoustic type of ballad, “Where You Are”. This band really knows how to transition a record from energetic to slow so well, it works great on this record. This song in particular showcases singer Derek’s raw and melodic side combined within this sad, but strong ballad. The combination of the acoustic guitar and the piano throughout the song, as well as Derek’s vocals make this the most powerful song on the record.
The record picks up the energy once again with “If I Were You”. This track captures everything about the band’s signature pop-punk sound all the way back to their first record. It captures the essence of the band once again, both musically and lyrically. It has a chorus packed full of melody that you won’t be able to get out of your head for days, maybe even weeks. Guitarist Alex Garcia also packs a hell of a solo in the bridge of the song, which tops this fantastic track off nicely. It then goes into “Satellite”, which is definitely the most experimental song on the record for Mayday. They try and experiment with a more pop-leaning type of rock with this song, and they execute it perfectly. It derives influence from their longtime friends in The Maine, having that poppy but fun type of chorus. Alex’s guitar parts are probably the best in this song throughout the whole record, shining specifically in the bridge with a beautiful clean solo. The album reaches possibly the best song on the record, “Looks Red, Tastes Blue”. This is everything I absolutely love about Mayday in one song, which is them combining their pop punk elements and their emotional elements absolutely perfectly in one song. Drummer Jake Bundrick’s vocals returning on this track to trade off lines with Derek is absolutely fabulous and he truly does a great job. The chorus shines like a diamond and it’s easily one of the band’s best songs to date, and that says a lot.
It starts to reach the end of the album with the second to last acoustic track, “Always Leaving”. This track has a little experimentation within the atmosphere of the song, having a type of Beatles influence in this ballad. I would think being a band for this long, you’d wanna push yourself to try new things within the things you’re good at. I think Mayday does a great job of adding something new to something they were already great at with trying out a folk-acoustic type of track. You can really hear that type of influence within the guitar string plucking throughout the song and clean lead guitar added in the middle. The record ends with the title track and the last acoustic leaning song, “Sunnyland”. I think it’s a wonderful way to end the album, with an acoustically strummed ballad that reflect on the old times. The lyrics “Take me back to sunnyland, so I can find the light again” really have so much emotional weight to them and you can feel it in your soul when hearing it. This song holds so much sadness within it, but overall delivers a hopeful message that the one and only Mayday Parade can deliver so well.
Overall, this record is damn near pitch perfect for me. It’s everything I ever want this band to sound on a record, tackling all their best qualities in strong tracks from start to finish. If I had to pick out one flaw of the record, it would be that there are one too many acoustic ballads. I don’t think any album should have as many as this one does, but it makes up for it by those ballads being strong ones. This is definitely an insanely strong sixth album by Mayday, and I suggest all of their fans (new or old) should hear and appreciate this record because there definitely is something for everybody. Be sure to pick up this album, as it’s out now! And be sure to catchy Mayday Parade on the entirety of the final Vans Warped Tour this summer!
Watch the romantic, summertime inspired video for “Piece of Your Heart” below, and be sure to let us know what you think of Sunnyland!