Throwback Review / Underdog Alma Mater
BY BARBARA WITHEROW
To say that Forever The Sickest Kids Underdog Alma Mater is a classic is an understatement. It’s hard for bands to get it absolutely right the first time, but FTSK did back in 2008, and it still holds up eleven years later.
It’s impossible to skip pass any song. This is the one album, where if any song off of it comes on in shuffle, I refuse to skip. Each one has its own specific feel and story, but they all flow so well together; except “Coffee Break,” but even “Coffee Break” fits well in an album about growing up.
Considering I was 13 when this album was released, to say I relate to it more and more every day is an understatement. Every song has a topic more than relatable to every day life. “Whoa Oh! (Me vs. Everyone)” talks about egos and how you build yourself so high that you’re not sure you can keep up with the image you give the world of yourself, which is more than relatable now with social media and everyone putting out what they want others to see.
“Hey Brittany” talks about a girl who is constantly cheating on her fiancé, who appears to be emotionally abusive, and the one guy she’s sleeping with observes this and has to fight to get her alone. “My Worst Nightmare” almost seems like a sequel to “Hey Brittany,” where he finally gets the girl but the relationship has become toxic and she won’t let go of her ex, so she accuses him of what she’s doing, which maybe cheating.
“Believe Me I’m Lying” continues this destructive path of the relationship where the guy has fallen into a routine of lying to the girl and refuses to build her up anymore. There’s mention of another guy and he has “his needs on the sideline.” Clearly the relationship has come to an end and the girl hates the guy and what he has said and done to her and has possibly turned to alcohol to cope (“Go ahead and buy yourself a drink, ‘Cause you know you’re deserving of it.”)
“The Way She Moves” seems to refer to the final night and final goodbye with this girl and how he realizes he should’ve given her more and doesn’t actually want her to leave. “It makes no sense to be permanent if you’re not feeling it, right?” “Breakdown” is also about the end of a relationship and the realization that your relationship is over and that it’s doing more harm than good.
“She’s A Lady” is a song I will turn up every single time. Anyone who has been in a toxic relationship understands how the narrator goes back and forth with the fighting and loving. During the bridge, the narrator discusses taking some time. He wants her back and waits for her to return to him. Sometimes it takes some growing up to fix a relationship and make it work when you really love that person.
“Uh huh” is about that feeling in a new relationship where you feel like it’ll last and then something happens that you wish you would’ve known sooner so you have a hard breakup. “That For Me” also talks about the beginnings of a new relationship and how the person, who you thought you may actually have a connection with, isn’t what they’re made out to be.
“Phone Call” is just one of those songs that I relate to too well. You fall for someone and even though you know they’re bad for you, you can’t let go. Not until that person lets you go and then you have to work through the motions to get them out of your system, even if that 97 missed calls.
“Coffee Break” feels more relatable today than it was in 2008. Today there’s so many different social networking sites that people get overwhelmed and have to take breaks from them. “Coffee Break” talks about growing up and over-committing yourself and getting no sleep because of everything on your plate and sometimes you just need to turn off your phone and take some time for yourself, even if it’s for two cups of coffee. Eleven years later, between work and having gone through college, moving, growing up, some days I wish I could turn everything off and take a minute for myself.
“Catastrophe” feels like the realization after “Coffee Break.” The narrator talks about having a dead end job and no family, and how he needs to quit and begin again. It appears his frustration is being taken out on this girl that he perceives as a drama queen that’ll only hold him back.
“Indiana” is the narrator telling this girl, who tells him what he needs to do with him, that he doesn’t need her. He tries to make her happy but they fall into the same pattern and she’s unhappy again. He goes on to say that he’ll be fine if he’s not with her.
As I’ve grown up with this album, it becomes more and more relatable. Not to mention how catchy the choruses and bridges are, with the mixture of keyboard, acoustic guitar, and electronic noises throughout each song to make them unique, but flow together perfectly. Underdog Alma Mater is hands down one album that has gotten better over time.