"(this) cd is not punk, it is not pop-punk even...but it is good."
After listening to the Saves The day songs on the latest Vagrant sampler, i was poised for some more of the same pop-punk Saves The Day that I had come to know. The songs on the sampler were great. The same as the old material but better somehow. When i heard they had a new album on the way I expected kore of this new better pop-punk. Boy, was I in for a surprise...
It is one of the most anticipated pop-punk albums of the year, the ironically titled "Stay What You Are" hit record stores on July 10th. Recorded in early 2001, it is their debut for Vagrant Records, and it follows this years trend towards a softer sound (which isn't always a bad thing). I had the priviledge of listening to this album for several weeks prior to its release, and during that time it has found its way into a regular spot in my cd player. Let me start out by saying the cd is not punk, it is not pop-punk even...but it is good. Those of you who are familiar with, and fans of, Saves the Days previous releases such as "Through Being Cool" are in for a change with this release. That is because on this album Saves The Day did everything BUT stay what they were. they have totally rehauled the band, and their sound with the aid of new producer Rob Schnapf.
Most people, upon listening to this album for the first time, do not like it. I must admit I didn't. It is such a change in style from the pop-punk perfection of heir previous effort. But once you get over the initial shock from the style change and give this album a chance you will find it's an awesome disc. The guitars are quieter, more subtle, less edgy. The bass is steady. The drums provide a sold backbeat, not as punk as before but they're still there. Perhaps the only thing that hasn't been toned down to a pop-rock level is the vocals of lead singer Chris Conley. This guy is a phenom, and will one day take the title of a great songwriter (he already is a great songwriter, the masses just have to acknowledge it (best if they don't though)). He goes about doing things the same as he always has, belting out songs of sense and sensibilty. The lyrics are slightly darker on this album, straying from topics of puppy love to more mature topics such as a friend's funeral. This cd is the maturation of Saves The Day from a band of awkward teenage rockers to an emotional rock quintet. I found the lyrics to be quite similar to Alkaline Trio in places, laced with violent imagery, for example "The last time that I saw you, August of '99, I should have had my hammer and a few rusty spikes to nail you on a wall and use bottles to catch your blood and display you for the neighbors so they know your time had come." and "The moon hangs like the blade of an axe tonight, and it's poised to drop sometime soon enough on this dump truck where I lie...". Perhaps Chris has been listening to as much Alkaline Trio as I have lately.
The best songs on this album are "As Your Ghost Takes Flight", and "Nightingale". "As Your Ghost takes Flight" is dark and cutting and rips into your ears and head in a way that this band has never done before. The lyrics are raw and scathing. The hooks are catchy. it's just an amazing song. "Nightingale" is probably the best song on the cd, as it revisits old STD territory as a kind of love song, with a royal twist. It is catchy and smooth and perfect for summer listening.
So, in short, this cd is very different from previous STD material. it doesn't even fit into the genre...or any genre. I honestly don't know what to classify it as. They have taken off a bit of the edge, and wrote some very catchy, very good songs (11 of them), and it has become their best work to date. i hated it the first time I listened to it, but it gets better every time I listen. It could become one of my favorites, even though it doesn't really fit into any of my preconcieved "favorite genres". To be honest I don't even really know what it is about this release that I like so much. But I do know it continues to make it's way into my cd player, as it has for the past 6 weeks.
Originally published in veronica palace zine.