Armor for Sleep – Smile for Them

Armor for Sleep
Smile for Them

Armor for Sleep has had a pretty interesting career. I remember hearing them on a Victory Records compilation, back when Victory were champions of hardcore and had only just begun entering the fray of modern day “screamo” (what the hell happened?). Their debut on Equal Vision was a sleeper hit, filled with solid songs and appropriately titled Dream to Make Believe. The songs were dreamy and though they had an aggressive quality to them, they were ultimately an introductory lull into the mind of singer/songwriter/guitarist Ben Jorgensen. They would take it one step further with What To Do When You are Dead. Running under the theme of death, it would go on to sell really well and show the world that a concept album could be as mature as it is imaginative. Now they are on a (uh-oh) major label. With Smile For Them, they continue their tradition of fairly straightforward rock songs with a little something extra that makes it undeniably their own.

The first track “Smile for Them” is a great way to open a record. It has a particularly nice little guitar part throughout that’s really addicting. “Somebody Else’s Arms” is your typical song about lost love, but Jorgensen manages to make an interesting story through the lyrics. The fairly simple line “You’re gonna die in somebody else’s arms and I have to live with that” is actually quite painful through the eyes of anyone who’s ever been brokenhearted. “Hold the Door” is another song about loss, this time slightly more epic thanks to the stellar chorus.

“Run Right Back In” and “Stars In Your Eyes” are straight-up awesome rock songs, while the sound of the guitars, again, is the bands sign of maturity on this record. This especially true in songs like “End of the World” and the beautiful ballad “Lullaby”. They close the album with the super catchy “Stand in the Spotlight”, a near perfect way to round out an already solid record.

Not everyone is going to enjoy Armor For Sleep. Some will scoff at their success, their light “emo-esque” lyrics, or even something as trivial as Jorgensen’s vocals. I’ve heard it all, but to be honest, when songs this catchy and mature emerge from a genre that is losing steam, it is ok to take notice.