May 4, 2006

No Need To Panic

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I absolutely hate when bands get plastered with some label that they don’t deserve. For example, almost any new band today is labeled “emo” or “indie.” Why? I don’t know either, but it’s complete crap. One band that has consistently been labeled emo is Saves The Day, however, there is not a doubt in my mind that they deserve every single emo label that is thrown their way. Saves The Day could, however, very easily fit into a pop-punk category, and rock, and indie, and the list goes on and on. Confused yet?
Saves The Day has written a number of acclaimed albums; and each has a sound, style, and mood purely individual of the others. Their first full-length, Can’t Slow Down (1998), is definitely their hardest, fast-paced, pure punk album through and through. In 1999, Through Being Cool, catapulted Saves The Day onto the scene and remains a must-have for many fans. The album was not as “hard” as the previous release, but still bled pure emotion and angst filled ballads, among them, fan favorites “Holly Hox, Forget Me Nots” and “Rocks Tonic Juice Magic.” Stay What You Are (2001) delivered a slower and melodic sound, yet still poured emotion out by the buckets with popular tracks such as “At Your Funeral.” Throughout these albums, STD garnered a solid fan base, however, 2003’s In Reverie create a divergence in their fan base. In Reverie was mediocre; the pop-punk sound the band developed in the previous records was nowhere to be found. One could argue that maturation was inevitable, however, that album came completely out of left field and turned fans away. But alas! Saves The Day has a new album! They were rumors that lead singer Chris Conley was going back to the good ol’ days of the early records, and guess what, I’ll be damned, the rumors are true.
Saves The Day released Sound The Alarm on April 11th through Vagrant Records. The classic STD punk/pop-punk sound I came to know and love is back; well, for the most part. There are a number of tracks that follow a much more traditional rock sound, rather than pop-punk, but are still unique bits of fun on their own. The album as a whole is a powerful slap in the face from beginning to end. Conley has always been a lyricist for the record books, by far one of the best songwriters. In addition, the vocals on every album are never the same. On Sound The Alarm, we hear yet another transformation of Conley’s pipes, but also, we hear bits and pieces of each record. The album begins with “Head For The Hills” which could definitely fit in with Through Being Cool. The next track, “The End,” is an in-your-face speedy punk track reminiscent of Can’t Slow Down. Sound The Alarm has an overwhelming mood that is somber and self-loathing, two themes not uncommon to Saves The Day, however Conley has a way of carefully placing words between catchy chorus bits to keep your attention. A nice example of this is “Shattered,” a piece driven by an absolutely pounding bass line that seemingly matches Conley’s repetitive rant, “I can’t stand my own face anymore/ The mirror is on the floor/ Shattered a million eyes all crying please/ Please don’t forget about me.” The following tracks, “Eulogy” and “Dying Day,” are both mediocre pop tracks with catchy choruses, but not the best pieces on the album.
As I mentioned, on each album Conley brings a different set of pipes to the table, but with Sound The Alarm he delivers a new style and range unheard on any other STD album. On “34” Conley drives a whaling rhythm from start to finish. The next track, “Say You’ll Never Leave,” definitely one of the strongest on the album, is a quintessential STD song. Everything, and I mean everything, is dead on. Drums (Pete Parada) are a bit redundant but work damn well, the bass (Manny Carrero) is a perfect background rumble, and Conley consistently displays his vocal talent; we also hear why they get that emo tag yet again, “I’ll cut out my throat and I’ll eat it raw and drown in the blood as it fills my lungs.” “Don’t Know Why” and “Sound The Alarm” are slow dramatic monologues that almost sound self-loathing (again) at times, however the latter picks up speed with a solid guitar solo not commonly heard on other STD albums.
The second to last track, “Delusional,” another standout, is a definite flashback to the Stay What You Are era. Sound The Alarm closes with an interesting piece, “Hell Is Here.” Awkwardly enough, I immediately compared the sound to a classic rock piece with twangy guitars and a strong instrumental display from the entire band. Sound The Alarm has a number of flashbacks to the good ol’ days, however; it also has a number of experiment tracks, if you will, that prior to this album, were never heard on any Saves The Day material. Sound The Alarm is definitely worth a critical listen.

Archived article by Adrian Prieto