Last month, As It Is released their new album, okay., where they explore and mature within their already standout sound.
The UK band caught my attention when I saw them live on the Glamour Kills Spring Break tour in 2015. While their set didn’t completely convince me to listen to them further, I still felt the need to give a listen to their debut album, Never Happy, Ever After, when they released it the following month. I’ve been hooked on their music ever since that first full listen, and I was even more impressed by their newest release, okay..
Starting in September, As It Is and Fearless Records began one of the most creative album marketing endeavors that I’ve seen. By creating ‘Happy Co.’ (as seen on Twitter and Instagram), the band began revealing not only release dates, but they even started pointing towards the deeper, more mature, and extremely personal themes that can be found in the lyrics of each song on okay..
This record focuses heavily on mental health and the band’s experiences surrounding it. The artwork that goes along with the album is representative of some of their most personal struggles whether it be with family or with the gripping reality of life and death. The album cover shows someone who is happy, but who carries around a bomb disguised by the word ‘okay;’ this is much similar to how many people will say that they’re fine even when their mind is exploding with negative thoughts. As It Is promoted okay. in a way that has created a safe space for fans to talk about mental health. The broader takeaway from this album is that it’s okay to not be okay, but that it’s especially important to talk about why things aren’t okay, so that progress can be made.
The third track, “Hey Rachel,” has vocalist Patty Walters at his most vulnerable. He sings an apology to his sister for not being as supportive as he could’ve when she was going through a hard time with her mental health when the two were younger.
Despite the seriousness behind the lyrical content on okay., it is sonically the perfect winter pick-me-up. The first four tracks on the album bring out the pop side of As It Is which is one of their best sides. They’ve mastered the art of catchy choruses, and created songs that I could leave on repeat all day such as “Pretty Little Distance.”
As It Is seems to play around with their sound a bit more in the second half of the record. During my first listen through of okay., I was left pleasantly surprised and impressed by “No Way Out.” The majority of the track fits with the other songs on the album, but then after yet another catchy chorus, the instrumentals become heavier, and Walters goes from singing to emotionally yelling a spoken word part, and then they go right back into the poppy chorus. I could never have predicted this exploration of sound coming from the band, so it’s refreshing to hear. The next track, “Soap,” has some of the most groovy riffs I’ve heard, and the song feels like it could be on a movie soundtrack. As It Is continues to show how they’ve grown in their writing throughout the rest of the album before closing with the peaceful, yet saddening “Still Remembering.”
As It is put a lot into this record, and there’s a lot of meaningful takeaways for fans. Okay. is a solid sophomore LP, and I don’t doubt that it will help the band to continue propelling forward.