Concept albums can be tricky to pull off in the current single track culture of music. But for Shinedown and Attention Attention, it seems easy. The struggle of stringing an album together in story form comes naturally to Shinedown, especially given the heavy subject matter. This album digs deep into the trenches of depression, angst, and loneliness. It’s a personal journey coded in swinging guitar riffs, blasted rhythm sections, and the snarl of lead singer Brent Smith. Shinedown is a band that rocks loud but also has mainstream appeal. Attention Attention is now a key cornerstone in that appeal, providing a personal rock odyssey that doesn’t disappoint.
The journey begins (and ends) with the sound of footsteps and the opening (and closing) of a door. However cheesy this technique is, it is still seemingly warranted given that the concept of personal struggle can often feel like being trapped in a room with all your worst nightmares. It doesn’t take long for Shinedown to get into their classic style of hard and heavy rock, but each lyric has a little extra sting. There’s an urgency to each word, each lick of the guitar, similar to an animal waiting to be released back into the wild. It’s clear that Shinedown has found an untapped well of energy to spark them through this album.
The title track “Attention Attention” is a thesis statement, a quick explanation as to how this concept album came to be. “Nothing about me is ordinary / My friends all say I’m going crazy / I don’t hear a word that they say” is a direct plea for help, a symbol of the internal struggles faced every day. In “Pyro”, attention is turned to family and an obviously rocky upbringing, causing Smith to smirk, “Set fire to the family tree”. There is a lot to unpack in this 14 track tale, whose 50 minutes are almost overwhelmed with action. The vicarious reliving that takes place while listening to Attention Attention is daunting at times and weighs heavy to the self-conscious mind.
What is perhaps most important about Attention Attention is the fact that it is completely honest. Shinedown has a way of genuinely connecting with its audience through that honesty, making them one of the more accessible hard rock bands currently on the scene. These guys are professionals, able to right the band’s unsteady ship with an album that packs a lot of punch and digs deep. Whereas Attention Attention can seem a little lengthy at points, there is no reason why our attention won’t be drawn to Shinedown for a long time.