With a title like Bad Habits, one would think Every Avenue’s third full-length release would be full of suburban pop-punk debauchery. And well, you’d be mostly right. The album’s opening song goes “Tie me down and fuck me up baby”, albeit in the tamest way possible. Thing is, the Michigan-based band never seemed interested in keeping up with the Cobra Starships and Friday Night Boys of the pop-punk world, feigning their bad-assness in front of a squeaky clean, pop-punk backdrop.
That’s not to say these guys aren’t poppy, though. If 2007’s debut single “Where Were You” proved anything, it was Every Avenue had an ear for an addictive melody, even if it was more rooted in glossy pop-rock than Warped Tour pop-punk. Bad Habits is an album that hits hardest when it plays off the band’s strengths. Front man David Strauchman has some impressive pipes, and most of these songs are centered around him slinging hooks. They don’t do much to shuffle this formula, but at a trim 10 songs over 34 minutes, Habits has little time to lose momentum. Thankfully, the quintet waits until track nine, the string-laced “I Can’t Not Love You”, to really lay the melodrama on.
On their more up-tempo numbers, the Michigan kids mix in a little bit of much of pop rock’s radio dial over the past, say, 15 years. Third Eye Blind, The All-American Rejects, and American Hi-Fi can all be heard here, as well as more contemporary pop-punk-leaning acts like Valencia and Hit The Lights. The Warped-ready sound can most be heard on songs like “Whatever Happened To You” and “Hit Me Where it Hurts the Most”, where the band gives a little additional space for guitarists Jimmie Deeghan and Joshua Withenshaw. “No One But You” flashes a little soloing, with the band leaning this time toward fast-paced pop-rock. Playful “come on’s” and a wall of backing vocals only add to the party.
It’s on the record’s more mid-tempo numbers where the band most often falls victim to cliché. “Only Place I Call Home” could benefit from reducing Strauchman’s gratuitous falsetto, especially after it reveals itself as one of surely countless songs written about being on the road and missing someone. Ditto for “Someday, Somehow”, although the song’s well-meaning chorus and peppy background guitars pick up the slack.
When all is said and done, Every Avenue are a pop rock band and a pretty good one at that. That being said, there’s an inherent bit of cliché in their syrupy music, though they seem to have a better sense of moderation than many of their Bamboozle fest peers. Bad Habits lacks a can’t miss single, and that might keep the record from truly taking off, though it has, however, debuted on the charts higher than any of its predecessors. Bad Habits blazes few new trails, but holds its own as a lively, heart-string-tugging back-to-school record.