A lot of albums we jammed in high school are turning 10 this year (in case you were wondering how old we are), so we'll probably spend some time on the ones that really stood out to us. First up: We the Kings' self-titled debut.
J: Great way to start the album, full of high energy and whiny pop-punk imagery like "we're finally intertwined" and "this is the moment that we become alive."
S: I always really liked this song, and it is basically the ubiquitous We the Kings song: a pop-rock-y tune about a girl. Not a bad intro to their sound or to this album.
J: This song is so melodramatic but I love it, like I would dead-ass have loved someone to sing this to me as a 16 year-old (well... my ideal 16 year-old self would have loved it. My neurotic af actual 16 year-old self would probably have run away).
S: Travis Clark tries to hit such high notes in the chorus and it’s a little strained, but he sounds so earnest. This is such a dramatic song (“I would die for you on Skyway Avenue”), but it could soundtrack just about any YA novel written in that same time period, so clearly they were onto some trend.
Check Yes Juliet
J: This song still makes me so happy. When going through my hard drive to play this song, I found a PhotoShopped image of all the lyrics to this song in totally rad fonts (ahem, not) that I apparently made when I was 18, which was a very high honour for any song for me at the time. This is We The Kings at their finest.
S: This is the jammiest jam to ever exist and if you tell me you’ve never once screamed along to it, I’ll assume you’re either a) a lying liar or b) younger than 20. It’s still so good, and I have an oddly vibrant memory of the first time I heard it (coming out of my grade 12 biology class, listening to it through my friend’s headphones because she told me she had a really good song she wanted me to hear). Not gonna lie, it’s my favourite part of seeing WTK live, because the crowd goes nuts for it.
S: They went for a heavier sound on this tune (the bass, at least, is more aggressive than the previous three songs), and it sounds like it was written expressly for a live performance – the chorus has an anthemic quality and it would absolutely get the crowd up and moving.
J: Sam nailed it by saying that the song really feels like it was written to be performed live, with audience participation during the "scream it like you mean it" chorus. It is a fun track, but not one that sticks out in my head as top WTK.
S: I’ll be honest: most of the time, when I listen to this album, I only really pay attention to the first four songs and then everything else sort of blurs together. This is still a good song, but nothing really special. Catchy “whoas” in the chorus, though.
J: Sam says it right again, this kind of blends and blurs and I can easily skip past. It almost sounds a bit like "Secret Valentine" in its verses but a less well conceived version.
August is Over
J: This starts off differently than the other tracks and it feels Dashboard Confessional-ly which I am always in for. I had pretty much forgot about this song but listening to it again, it's actually pretty great.
S: I like that this song starts off a little slower – you almost expect it to be a ballad of some sort, but then it builds up in the pre-chorus and lets loose. A real head-bopper, the drums really stand out in this one.
S: I genuinely can’t remember this song. The rest of the tracklist, I can at least bring to mind a chorus or a lyrical phrase, but even the title of this one leaves me miffed. I swear this is the first time I’m hearing it – not bad, but nothing special. Great bassline, though.
J: Yeah, this is not a memorable song. It's pretty generic pop-punk. If I was to list the songs of this album, I would likely forget this one. I do enjoy the chorus a fair bit, but that's about it.
Don't Speak Liar
J: Now this is a song I have no memory of. I can vaguely pick out the chorus but that's it. It's not great.
S: Again, a song that’s closer to a ballad. It’s a softer sound up the chorus which sounds as angry as We the Kings gets (on this album, at least).
Headlines Read Out
J: Cobra Starship in that synth intro, which I do quite enjoy but really this back half of this album is really nothing special. They knock it out of the park with the first five tracks and then it's just blended whininess.
S: OH MY GOSH, that intro. It’s SOOO 2007 to have that electronic (synth?) intro that has nothing to do with the rest of the song. Probably the most dated song on the album, in terms of sound.
All Again for You
J: Okay, I take it back, I actually really like this song. Again, something I would be okay with a teenage boy singing to me (as a teenage girl, not as a 26 year-old bitter woman).
S: I’m sure if I actually listened to the words, I’d find some deep meaning in this song, but sonically, its structure is very similar to “Don’t Speak Liar”, so it’s probably one of the reasons why the last half of this album blends together for me.
This Is Our Town
J: I mean... I guess it's a rite of passage for every pop-punk band to write a song about their "town" but this is a bit of a downer to end the album on. This would have been better stuck in the middle with the album ending with a banger.
S: I vaguely remember this song being used in promos for One Tree Hill (fun fact: I actually didn’t start watching One Tree Hill until the series was almost over) and it does fit perfectly. The only true ballad, it’s interesting that they chose to end the album with something so slow and emotional, but the piano part is lovely and you gotta give them points for passion.