A Lesson In Romantics - Mayday Parade
Fearless Records – 2007
It was only fitting I pick my first review to be one of my all-time favorite records, A Lesson in Romantics by Tallahassee natives, Mayday Parade. Known as Emo royalty and the Kings of Warped Tour, almost every song of theirs evokes a feeling of despair and heartbreak (but, ya know, in a good way). Although this record was released almost 13 years ago, it’s still a banger.
This debut studio album opens with the single “Jamie All Over” makes us reminisce about the perfect summer with a person we love. Boasting over 53 million streams on Spotify, Derek Sanders and Jason Lancaster provide vocals for this album and their harmonizing vocals make you want to head bang in the car on the drive to the beach. Although extremely poppy, the underlying tones of the song make the setting seem like the tail end of a breakup, rather than the current throes of a summer romance.
Next up on the track list is a personal favorite; “Black Cat”. With a cheesy (and frankly weird) chorus of “You’re like a black cat with a black backpack full of fireworks” reminds me HEAVILY of Stroke 9’s song “Little Black Backpack” of 1995. But definitely a lot catchier. “Black Cat” tells the story of a behind-the-scenes making of a movie, and the inspiration behind it being a jealous lover and the downfall of their relationship.
As I continue this review (and obviously play each song over and over, much to my spouse’s annoyance) I notice a pattern in the song writing. Obviously, as with most emo/pop-punk records of the mid-2000’s, Mayday Parade are storytellers. Each song puts me in the middle of a scene or feeling. I can feel the sandy beaches under my toes in “Jamie All Over” and I can feel the jealous rage of being an ex-girlfriend in “Black Cat” (haven’t we all though??) Anyway, sidebar over, back to it.
“When I get Home You’re So Dead” has got to be the epitome of my high school years. The first Mayday song I illegally downloaded, and my favorite to quote in my AIM away messages; “When I Get Home” is literally about a cheating lover and the demise of their relationship. “Cause baby you weren’t the first, the last or the worst”- ooof what a lyric! If you need a song to blast after a shitty breakup, this is it.
And now for the one every Mayday fan has been waiting for – “Jersey”. Again, lyrics about the end of a relationship, but less accusatory and more remorseful. The tone of the songs hits you square in the chest; looking back at the relationship that just ended and wondering if anything that was said was real. However, my personal favorite part is the epic key-change at 2:55. Chills every time.
“If You Wanted A Song Written About You All You Had To Do Was Ask” opens with an iconic staccato bass line, courtesy of Jeremy Lenzo. Any guesses on what this song is about? If you said a breakup, you’d be correct. Although I love this song, I don’t feel like repeating myself, so moving on.
“Miserable At Best” has been known to make myself and my friends sob real tears at shows. On the album, Jason Lancaster provides half the vocals on the song while Derek Sanders puts his piano skills on full display. However, since Jason left Mayday, drummer Jake Bundrick joins Derek to split the vocals on the gut-wrenching ballad.
Next up on the list is “Walk On Water or Drown”. I have to admit, this one doesn’t stand out too much to me and that could be because the previous track always slaps me in the face so I don’t tend to want to listen to anymore sad songs after that. Lancaster and Sanders belt out harmonizing vocals that are both catchy and somber.
“Ocean and Atlantic” tells the story of an East coast girl looking for something more and running away from her current life. Although the first few times I listened to this record, I thought this song was about wanderlust and her need for adventure. As I have aged though, the song has much darker undertones. Don’t let the bright orange album cover fool you, this record is a fucking doozy.
Following “Ocean and Atlantic” is another goddamn long titled song: “I’d Hate To Be You When People Find Out What This Song Is About”. When I first saw some of these song titles, I felt the influence of Fall Out Boy and their upsettingly long track titles. The song definitely has the quintessential cheating lover’s vibe that we’ve grown to know and love. Lead guitarist Alex Garcia gives us a spine-chilling solo towards the end that still gives me goosebumps.
“Take This To Heart” has got to be one of Mayday Parade songs with the most uplifting choruses. Instead of a relationship ending, we get a glimmer of positivity, where our narrator tells us that no matter what, they will make it as a couple. With one of the most wholesome bridges: “Cause every song is ours tonight. And if you love me so, I’m gonna tell the whole world that it’s the greatest thing that’s happened to me. I finally found a good reason to come home.” BRB sobbing. But in a good way.
Next up on our sad little road trip down memory lane is “Champagne is for Celebrating (I’ll Have a Martini)”. The song title is a quote from some Brad Pitt action flick that I still haven’t seen, but the subtext of the track, before hitting play, is basically “sad/nothing to celebrate”. Similar to “Ocean and Atlantic”, the song talks about a girl heading West, but through the perspective of the boy that loves her and wants her to stay. Guitarists Alex Garcia and Brooks Betts give the perfect pop-punk guitars to compliment the angsty vocals throughout the track.
And naturally, the end the album, Mayday Parade picked THE longest track title: “You Be The Anchor That Keeps My Feet On The Ground, I’ll Be The Wings That Keep Your Heart In The Clouds”. Get your lighters in the air because this songs is the perfect slow swaying songs that make you feel every note from your heart to your soles. As slow and somber this song is, it was the perfect track to end this iconic record with. It hurts so good that it makes you beg for more.
My Final Thoughts:
A Lesson in Romantics is a staple album for any and every emo kid. I grew up on this record and this band. I had the pleasure of getting guest list tickets to their 10 year anniversary show in New York where I forced my spouse to drive us five hours so I could stand side stage and cry. This is one of the few bands where I can listen to every single album on repeat and never get bored. They’re wonderful human beings, genuinely love their fans, and put on one hell of a performance.
It was a no-brainer I would pick this record to write a review of.
My Emo Rating?