Saves The Day


Written by: TL on 10/10/2011 23:32:58

A little while ago, I opened a Relient K review speaking about how, despite their success, they aren't talked about enough. Here's a band about which I could easily say the same. While pop-punk is busily evolving in the whole easycore direction to survive, I continually feel like not enough people are appreciating where the whole thing started. The Wonder Years, Living With Lions, Transit, Man Overboard, all those bands, ask them about the albums that inspired them the most and I guarantee you, Saves The Day's seminal 1999 effort "Through Being Cool" is going to be near the top of the list. Not only that, but with "At Your Funeral", off of 2001's follow-up "Stay What You Are", the band also produced one of the most memorable singles to come out of emo while it was still relatively clear what that term meant. Now you tell me, based on that, why are Saves The Day not getting ridiculous amounts of love these days?

I guess it could be because main man Chris Conley decided long ago to not let the band rest on its laurels, opting instead to spend the next three albums greatly expanding the band's sound, effectively confusing loads of fans as to what kind of band Saves The Day was turning into. And with the release of this year's "Daybreak", I admit that I've been feeling for a while like that question was still up in the air, because this record sounds rather peculiar. On one hand, elements from pop-punk and 90's emo are still very much in play, and while listening to the 11 songs on offer, yet your mind should get really dragged as far and wide as from The Get Up Kids over Mae and Say Anything and onto Tigers Jaw. There's a crunchyness to the production and the guitars and a poppy catchiness to many of the choruses and Conley's skinny, slightly sharp voice would fit perfectly in, making the whole thing sound like everything else right now, but when the chips are down, the truth is that "Daybreak" doesn't really sound like many other things at all. The reason is the all-pervasive atmosphere that's been deliberately coded into the album's DNA, in order to make it the closer to the three-album concept instigated with predecessors "Sound The Alarm" and "Under The Boards".

Conley has stated that; "Sound The Alarm is an expression of discontent. Under the Boards is reflection and remorse. Daybreak is acceptance.", and one of the most impressive things about "Daybreak" is how that very emotion, acceptance, is brought across. On one hand the album seems to sound like loss and going through bad times, but on the other it also contains that movement from bitterness turning into rays of hope and eventually casting the bad memories in a sort of appreciative, nostalgic light.

This atmosphere really speaks to the band's credit and makes "Daybreak" the rare kind of album that's definitely more than just a collection of songs. That's not to say there aren't any good individual songs however. Not even though STD (I often wonder if they thought of that abbreviation when they came up with the band name) commit the mother of all mistakes by opening their album with a title track that almost reaches the 11 minute mark. You see "Daybreak" is still phenomenal song really, moving through five equally good parts like a grown up's "Jesus Of Surbubia" or a more darkly nuanced "The Fisherman Song" (see: Mae's "(m)orning EP"). Both "Let It All Go" and "1984" are more conventional 'hits' however, quietly being much catchier than they let on, coated as they are in the album's puzzling, complex mood.

Together with other numbers like "Deranged & Desperate" and "Living Without Love", those represent the more up-beat selection of winners on the disc, and yet there's a different side to this 'coin' that's just as interesting. Here I'm talking of the slower, more subtle songs, most of which are titled alá "E", "Z" and "U", and especially the closing pair "O" and "Undress Me" gush with sentimentality that reaches into the listener and graces something that I think is rarely touched these days. It's beautiful, and open-hearted in a manner that only throwback emo bands like Tigers Jaw et al seem capable of expressing, yet Conley and his band bring the weight of their years to bear in a manner that none of the young revivalist bands have really matched.

Overall, "Daybreak" has been a hard record to get into, mostly because it stands stubbornly apart from what most bands are doing these days, choosing to go for a depth and nuance of emotion that you just don't get to hear very often. Effectively I can't say that it's a disc that has blown me away, and while it grows tremendously with more listens, I'm fairly certain that most people will still fail to recognise it as anything but another reason to casually overlook Saves The Day. I'm telling you though, that is a damn shame, because when you do start to get a sense of its quality, it's going to seem more and more like a record that's just not going to go away. I was underwhelmed at first, but now get the feeling I'll be considering this for my AOTY list come the end of the year, so I'm going to do something reckless and give it the grade I think it'll grow to deserve when I've heard it even more. Also because a) how many bands can do something like this? b) if more bands could, maybe emo would still be a distinct, worthwhile genre and c) it's not like I've been squandering my share of these marks this year:


Download: Undress Me, 1984, Daybreak, U, O
For The Fans Of: The Get Up Kids, Mae, Say Anything, Jimmy Eat World, Tigers Jaw, Brand New

Release Date 13.09.2011
Razor & Tie

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