There are two distinct and obvious undeniable truths about the second album from Las Vegas band Adelitas Way, the first being that whatever preconceived ideas you will have from their self-titled debut release, “Home School Valedictorian“ is simply one enjoyable and satisfying collection of songs. The other blatant fact is that it again treads a well worn path which not only the band’s debut album walked but numerous other bands have consistently made their musical destination. Bands like Sick Puppies, 3 Days Grace, Trapt, just a few of a long list, all thrive on the same melodic guitar flavoured hard rock sound wrung out in personal angst and expressively emotive lyrics.
Adelitas Way are still no exception but on the showing of “Home School Valedictorian” they are moving forward to hopefully challenge the leading lights as one of the essential listens in this area. The absence of any true uniqueness is the only real criticism that anyone can aim at an album as solidly entertaining as this, the trouble is with a bundle of artists all vying for recognition with the same kind of sound, something that truly stands out as belonging to one band is essential to elevate them above all others and away from the unavoidable comparisons.
To the album itself and the strong and consistent content it offers up. Filled with some fine gems that eagerly and deservedly ask for attention, interspersed with songs that are solid and straightforward, it is a more than decent listen. “Home School Valedictorian” swaggers into view with the opener ‘The Collapse’, slowly sliding in before it opens up with vibrant, stirring riffs and striding guitars, while deep bass lines throb alongside wonderfully. There is no denying that the guitar work of Keith Wallen is never less than impressive and impossible to ignore, and the deep smouldering bass riffs of Derek Johnston are irresistible. Bolstering that with his firmly eager drums is Trevor Stafford, giving the kind of framework that all good music needs, whilst vocalist Rick DeJesus never gives less than a powerful and passion filled delivery, all together showing Adelitas Way is certainly a tight and powerful unit.
Tracks such as the single ‘Sick’, another track dripping with treacle thick riffs and hooks, ‘Criticize’ with its torpedo like rhythm attack and explosive melodies, and the driving infectious ‘I Wanna Be’, which was co-written with Tyler Connolly from Theory of a Deadman, all slip into the ear with impressive and welcome satisfaction, the band certainly knowing how to create and deliver good slices of rock ‘n’ roll.
There are a few moments when the flow of the album wavers a little, mainly on the slower ballad moments, as in ‘I Can Tell’ and the closing track ‘Hurt’, the tracks are certainly solid enough but against the higher paced and more intense tracks they are less engaging. Surprisingly, the band stirs up more emotion and passion within their more explosive songs than in the expected earnest ballads.
Produced by Dave Bassett (Shinedown, Josh Groban, and Halestorm) “Home School Valedictorian” has a smooth and accessible sound that brings all components seamlessly together but allows for their individual parts to stand out at the same time. The song writing is expressive and perfectly realised and on the album, there is not one track that sounds like another, all have their own distinct fingerprint. The fact that each track sounds like other songs from other bands is the problem, no song is a copy but they certainly walk closely side by side with the sound of many contemporaries. Sick Puppies, 3 Days Grace, even a pinch of Bush, just to pluck a trio of references, are all in there and though this release is a step forward from their debut it is not a big enough leap away from other influences.
For all of that though “Home School Valedictorian” is a fine album and inspires continued listens, one just has to accept though that Adelitas Way has still some way to go before putting their own unique place name on the table.