What To Do When You Are Dead

“What To Do When You Are Dead” is the second album from this New Jersey emo-pop punk band. It’s a concept album centered on a lovelorn protagonist who commits suicide in the first song and then wanders around the afterlife – still miserable, of course. His last thoughts are summed up with: “I didn’t care that you left and abandoned me, what hurts more is that I would still die for you.”

The music ranges from muted to raucous, covered with sugary sweet vocals and melodic harmonies. When bands like “The Smiths” contrasted tales of misery with jingly upbeat pop music, it felt like irony. This feels more like an equation of youthful sorrow plus pop sensibilities equalling long lines at the record stores. In short, this band is probably not meant for you, but it might be for your little sister, who loves Atreyu’s (a hardcore emo rock band) fashion but wishes they wouldn’t do all that annoying screaming.

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Here’s the rub: these guys actually play pretty well. They avoid the usual three-chords-and-smile thing, preferring a more dynamic and layered approach which results in more developed songs. They have a good sense of melody and most of the material will be pretty catchy to the band’s audience.

A concept album is tough to pull off, and the story is a little too up front and obvious in places, but overall the band has done a decent job presenting the material. This style of music doesn’t usually get a warm welcome from me, but if you like this stuff, then Armor For Sleep seems like a no-brainer. It’s bad music played well.

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