We were so excited to get our hands on the new As It Is album, okay. There’ve been some awesome tracks released already but we were curious what okay. felt like in its entirety.
Hailing from Brighton, UK, As It Is are Patty Walters (vocals), Benjamin Biss (vocals, guitar), Andy Westhead (guitar), Alistair Testo (bass) and Patrick Foley (drums).
okay. is said to be the band’s “most personal and honest record to date”, and we couldn’t wait to review it, track by track. So let’s begin.
The sun rises on okay. with the sweet guitar of “Pretty Little Distance”. This is a happy pop punk number, yet with an undercurrent of terror relating to facing reality behind the smile.
“Ain’t life swell from a pretty little distance..”
This is pop punk at its finest and I’m not complaining. The bridge has us looking at the mess of life through rose-tinted glasses, and that’s alright.
The second song, “Okay”, opens with a confession that you could be hearing from the other end of a phone call.
“I don’t know if I’ve been worse,
I don’t know if I can change,
But right now,
I don’t think,
I don’t think that I’m okay.”
It’s an admission, along with heavy guitar and upbeat drums, that he’s been avoiding how he’s been feeling. We’re only two tracks in and this theme of facing life’s realities with honesty is showing up strongly. From Patty Walters, “We couldn’t have been more honest with some of these lyrics. In short, it’s a sad and honest record – even when it sounds happy.” The reference to being honest with himself is clear.
“And how foreign it felt,
when I opened my mouth,
and heard the truth come out,
I’ve been running away,
a tired respite from pain,
my only novocaine”
“Okay” still carries a happy beat. Maybe we can handle self-honesty while staying afloat?
“Hey Rachel” is the next track, and takes us back to childhood with sweet words to a sibling:
“I was younger and scared when you needed me,
I was selfish and stubborn,
A terrible brother,
You don’t have to forgive me.”
This song comes with a bounce and a it’s a heartwarming bop courtesy of introspective guitar and pride blasting from the drums. It’s kind of clever how As It Is have managed to maintain emotional sincerity with a light song.
“Patchwork Love” takes us a little deeper into murky depths of relationship angst. There’s a relationship on the rocks, a “stubborn heart”, and three words that are missing.
“It’s time we talk,
I know a secret that your eyes won’t keep;
That you’re the author of a tragedy,
So tell me how it ends.”
As It Is are pushing hard at honesty, now toward a lover, with completely unfiltered admissions and questions. The theme of being honest in your difficulty is shining through here, saying something like “Hey, I know we’re not quite working here, and I’d rather you not waste your life on me when you could be happier with someone. And that sucks, but it has to hurt before it can heal.” The bridge is so beautiful of this track, with piano coming in as (“Don’t forget me, don’t regret me” / “Tearful, I let go”). You’re making us cry, As It Is!
“Curtains Close” is so light and delicate, ‘pop-‘ having a time in the sun while the ‘-punk’ part is off somewhere else. This is another heart-string tugger, describing what sounds to be divorce.
“Yesteryears and coats of blue,
Broken vows once spoken true,
Being torn in two never comes out clean.”
The lift in the chorus inspires a sense of “it’ll be okay” despite losing everything, and the bridge takes it further with an idea of hope, that maybe some people are better off apart. From Patty Walters, “It will get better, but it doesn’t have to be better right away. It’s okay to feel this way now because it gets better eventually.”
“No Way Out” rains down on us, bringing the ‘punk’ part back and more growls than sweet sentiments. The drums are a stand-out for me, as well as the emotional rawness of the more unclean vocals.
But are you ready for this?! The guitar loops foreshadow a shift into something intensely amazing, musically, lyrically and all of the above. Cue the bass, and a spoken word which is a roar from someone who spent far too long NOT roaring.
“As I let hindsight translate nightmares into reality
I begin to see who i truly was
Somebody entirely out of their depth
Somebody beyond their abilities to cope”
“I know that I fucked up.
And I want to grow from it.”
AND THE ENDING! Favourite song so far, right here.
Regaining composure, we listen to “Soap”. I am loving ever more honesty and openness, along with some sweet sweet guitars and raunchy bass. The vocals are amazing and so is the lead into the chorus.
“We’re ALL THE SAAAAMME!”
The chords going into the second verse have me captivated, as does the space that the vocals are given to do their thing. Space is then afforded to the guitars and they speak too. The chilled AF outro is divine. This is another amazing song.
“Austen” pulls us heavily down with reverberating bass and the subject matter. I heard this for the first time in public and was on the verge of tears.
“You fear the silence so I keep the words coming.
You won’t remember that once all the clocks stop running.
We might expect it but my heart’s still filled with dread
And words I never said.”
It’s as honest as it gets with life. That sometimes people get really really sick. And that we are born and that we also will die, which means that at some point the people that used to tower over us, and were such a strong and permanent presence in our life, filling our memories and having golden hearts, will eventually leave. The sentiment is expressed beautifully and powerfully.
“Until I Return” breathes some more upbeat life back into us. We’re no longer heavy with dread, but we’re losing our minds with the angst of long-distance love.
“I feel at home when you’re lying next to me
But I fall apart when an ocean’s in between.”
This song has a whole lot of apology about falling apart when a couple are apart from each other (“I can’t promise that I’ll be fine”), but also a whole lot of appreciation for this beautiful spirit that puts all the pieces back together when they are together; the “One true North when I veer off course”.
“The Coast Is Where Home Is” has such a beautiful introduction, taking us to the ocean and to light and easy times, with the sea air inside my lungs. Celebrating connection and feeling like the only ones. The venues may close, things may change, but..
“If nothing else I have the sea.”
Finding permanence in what’s real, instead of clinging to things in life that are meant to change. Wow, this is such a beautiful sentiment. I love that the song sections with muffled sound also have an underwater feel.
“Still Remembering” has us up late at night thinking about the past. It’s another attempt by As It Is to have us bawl, with their sweet sound and beautiful lyrics.
“I’ve kept your portrait framed within my mind.
It remains untouched of paints and brushes
Yet still it changed over time.
When you left, not without warning or regretsNothing would fill this hole in my chest.
Here’s your farewell: I wish you nothing but the best”
Argh. So touching and the raw honesty along with this warm melody is brilliant.
Oh my. I think when I began to explore and review As It Is’s okay. I expected a collection of good pop-punk songs. Where what okay. turned out to be was a handbook describing the adventures and the challenges of life, with honesty about all of those things laid bare, with a whole lot of acceptance for those admissions and emotions.
It is okay, to live and be human, be lonely, to dread, to grieve, to not want to face ourselves, to feel stuck, and to turn away from our pain. It’s okay to be alive and experiencing life, with the full spectrum of emotion, even if that means we’re not permanently happy and sunshiney.
It is okay.
Thank you, As It Is.