I’ve always respected Don’t Look Down on many levels. They have always impressed me with their strong work ethic way back from their younger days. They are a pop-punk band and they don’t care if they are classified as one and they never have; which is uplifting to me since so many bands seem rather cautious when their sound is described as having any facet of pop in it.
With that being said, on their latest full-length, The Fear In Love, Don’t Look Down take their pop-punk roots but transport them to a higher, more mature level. The pop influences on this album aren’t as juvenile as their previous work. This album is gloomier lyrically and musically. It has rough edges to it, which is a big change for these guys but a change that is really welcomed on my account. The songs still follow that basic pop song structure with sing-along choruses throughout the album but in this makeup, they are more than just catchy, they fit nicely and sound competently put together. There is a lot of power and emotion built into the vocals, which provides a nice sense of realism and truth in the music.
One of the biggest changes to the band is the fine tuned technical and production aspect that The Fear In Love embodies. This strong production value on this record really fits well with the overall pop rock sound structure; courtesy of Brian McTernan, whose work on this record is remarkable and his technical insight combined with Don’t Look Down’s music is a match made in heaven. On most albums where a strong technical and production quality is implemented, it can often water down the album too much. Not here though, everything is measured out just right.
The biggest positive musically on this album is the guitar work. Guitar sounds in a pop-punk album can often become very repetitive and annoying. However, this is not the case for Don’t Look Down. These guys really do an incredible job of throwing in several uncommon guitar hooks and riffs throughout the entire album. Both guitarists are incredibly talented and they do a nice job of providing an incredible amount of innovation to pop-punk music.
It would have been easy for Don’t Look Down to take their sound and put out a full length and sell a ton of copies based off the catchiness and solid promotion. Well these guys decided to opt for something different. They decided to take their music to a new level while not settling for something that has been done before, and it has paid off nicely.