Four Year Strong formed in 2001 in the terrible city of Worcester, Massachusetts. Chances are you can’t pronounce the city correctly and you definitely have no reason to ever visit. But twenty-two years and seven full-length studio albums later FYS are still going….. strong. The band’s epic beards sometimes get more notoriety than their musicianship and songwriting prowess, so we hope to change that in our posi rankings of the now-four-piece’s LPs from worst to best one step at a time in some way, shape, or form. Anyway, to close this sterling intro, it must really suck to be Set Your Goals right now. Prepare to be digitally manipulated/frustrated:
7. It’s Our Time (2005)
We suppose that there is a reason why this album is really hard to find. Rough and youthful in many endearing ways, 2005’s “It’s Our Time” is likely your most revered or second favorite FYS album listed here because you’re as punk as punk can be, but it’s objectively and subjectively the band’s worst LP. Sorry, but we’re not here to put you on. Released on Open Your Eyes Records, “It’s Our Time” came out during the TRL days of Warped Tour bands and unintentionally or intentionally foreshadowed a bright visual and aural future for Four Year Strong. To put it simply for you toads, the band got better with age, as most bands do unless they don’t, and the following albums below overshadow this one. Maybe it was just easier to wait and see. To quote the title/tagline to MTV’s “Next,” which also came out in 2005, “Next!”
Play it again: “Your Song”
Skip it: “Put You On”
6. In Some Way, Shape, or Form (2011)
Before we get deep into this beyond-polarizing 2011 LP, we want to say on record that it isn’t half as bad as a large peanut gallery of fairweather Four Year Strong fans said that it was, and their song that should’ve been a single “Stuck In The Middle” remains one of FYS’s best tunes. Also, tracks one through four foreshadowed a potentially excellent LP, and honestly could’ve been a perfect EP in a similar league to 2014’s return-to-form romp amongst romps known as “Go Down in History,” but sadly the remaining songs are quite disjointed/ inconsistent, thus killing this album’s overall forty-plus minute flow. Some called the band Foo Year Strong after this studio album, which was their fifth, but some people are stupid, and “some” means “one or more”… Brassy? Yes, but the bold survive!
Play it again: “Stuck in the Middle”
Skip it: “Sweet Kerosene”
5. Explains It All (2009)
The aughts band went into full ’90s mode with eleven punk rock covers of classic ’90s rock songs from obscure bands like Everclear and Nirvana. “Explain It All” tied FYS listeners over till their 2010 major label debut which is ranked in a medal position, and came out just under nine months after this cover LP which is succinct and sensual. This album is also the band’s last on Rob Hitt of Midtown’s I Surrender Records before signing with Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy’s Decaydance Records as a subsidiary to Universal Motown Records. To quote a title of a Less Than Jake song, “Motown never sounded so good.”
Play it again: Everclear’s underrated “So Much for the Afterglow”
Skip it: Since we have to pick one we sadly have to go with Sugar Ray’s pop and booty shaking hit “Fly” with Travie McCoy from Travie McCoy/Gym Class Heroes even though the worst cover on this LP is better than your best
4. Self-Titled (2015)
We won’t be forced to eat our words on this: 2015’s self-titled effort certainly satisfied old fans who may have departed as such for their prior full-length for non-justifiable reasons. Another point of note is that the band’s publicly most streamed Spotify song by FAR, but not the Sacramento band Far, is track two, Modest Mouse’s “We All Float Down Here.” In addition to its lengthy song titles, many of which come from popular movies like “Boogie Nights,” “Rush Hour,” and not “The Bonfire of the Vanities” featuring Beth Broderick from Melissa Joan Hart’s other show, the band showcased an insane energy not heard since their sophomore album. Plus, the album cover looks like a Phish fan’s stoner dream and a Minor Threat fan’s straight edge nightmare.
Play it again: “We All Float Down Here”
Skip it: “The Sound of Your Heart”
3. Brain Pain (2020)
It’s really, really cool, and it’s extremely, extremely rare for a band with a catalog as expansive as Four Year Strong’s to almost peak creatively with their most recent effort, but “Brain Pain” is their finest hour since the album that came out almost exactly ten years prior. Because of such and so, so much more, we are not including any “skip it” tracks here and onward. Yeah. You all should close your dirty mouths unless you’re taking your crazy pills. Anyway, the band clearly took a lot of time composing songs for this album, as evidenced by the longest gap between LP releases of FYS’s career. Also, producer Will Putney from the slightly less heavy band with a nursery school-friendly name known as Fit for an Autopsy brought out a heavy, heavy and melodic, melodic side to the band that hadn’t been showcased before.
Play it again: “Talking Myself in Circles”
Skip it: The Worcester exit on the Mass Pike
2. Rise or Die Trying (2007)
We know you want this album should be number one. And we know you think we’re always wrong about the placement of these ranking entries, but we aren’t. Do we deserve a beatdown in the key of sadness and unquenchable anger from a maniac’s pipe? Probably. Do we make these lists intentionally to offend? We’ll never tell. Back to 2007’s breakout FYS full-length: “Rise or Die Trying” will forever hang in the Agnostic pantheon of Warped Tour band’s LPs, and certainly introduced the band to an audience larger than its aforementioned debut album “Time & Space” did. Lastly, FYS excels at pinch harmonics…
Play it again: “Abandon Ship or Abandon All Hope”
Skip it: Shows downstairs at the Worcester Palladium
1. Enemy of the World (2010)
Former keyboardist Josh Lyford (also a BMX ripper) went out in style via the band’s supremely supreme fourth studio album “Enemy of the World”. Lyford exited the group one year and one month after this album hit record stores… Remember those? Anyway, the band’s major label debut is a perfect listen from top to bottom, and the band even re-recorded it recently, showing that they know what they did, and that they are not sorry for it. Featuring four singles, all of which should’ve been hits, “Enemy of the World” answers the inferior publication’s infamous quote in the late-00s about SYG’s non-beef with FYS with a rocking potentially vendetta and acronym based splendor one riff at a time. We also like it when bands close albums with title tracks, and at just over four minutes, “Enemy of the World” is the LP’s longest song, but not by that much. Find YOUR way back.
Play it again: “It Must Really Suck to Be Four Year Strong Right Now”
Skip it: All of central Massachusettes