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Boy Sets Fire - The Misery Index: Notes from the Plague Years (Cover Artwork)

Boy Sets Fire

Boy Sets Fire: The Misery Index: Notes from the Plague YearsThe Misery Index: Notes from the Plague Years (2006)
Equal Vision Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: colincolin
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Boy Sets Fire's 2000 effort, After the Eulogy, seemed to put them at the top of their game in the eyes of many. So much so, that with the uneven response to Tomorrow Come Today, people seemed to think the band was past their prime, and would soon fade into the growing list of post-hardcore acts from.
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Boy Sets Fire's 2000 effort, After the Eulogy, seemed to put them at the top of their game in the eyes of many. So much so, that with the uneven response to Tomorrow Come Today, people seemed to think the band was past their prime, and would soon fade into the growing list of post-hardcore acts from the late `90s who just couldn't keep reinventing the sound.

The Misery Index: Notes from the Plague Years is sort of one big 'fuck you' to that notion. While the album introduces itself with an acoustic guitar, the ever-outspoken band cuts right to the chase. After a minute and a half of a lyrical assault to those who keep silent about current events, the band returns sonically with the ferocity that was seemingly lost over the past few years. The album demands to be heard, it pulls no punches, and takes pride in that fact.

While the vast array of layers of instruments and vocals would be seemingly overproduced, I happen to think that in this instance it works quite well. Some of the disc would be hard to replicate live, but when dealing with political content, there's always a certain theatrical aspect involved. The production is noticable, but doesn't detract from the music; it more enhances the sound. The guitars are driving but not overpowering, and the vocals are layerd but not distracting. The drumming is absolutely phenomenal, and is the spine of the entire disc.

This is not an album without faults. While "Requiem" is a mid-tempo rock song that is radio-friendly but not the 'obviously included for a single' song, the background vocals of "I need to feel it, please, just let me feel alright," give it a cheap mall-emo quality that I think could have been easily disposed of. "Deja Coup," while a clever assault on organized religion, sounds out of place with the pop-punk sound. The band has many experiments on this record, as far as varying influences are concerned, and this is the only one that sounds like it might be out of place. Even as it transitions into a horn-led chorus, it sounds just fine, but the bouncy verses seem a bit out of place.

However, for the few faults, there are triumphs tenfold. When the band signed to Equal Vision, they hinted at a record of political determination, and delivered almost in an over-the-top manner. When the band isn't singing about George Bush directly, they're attacking organized religion, poverty, and hunger. Even in the break-up anthem, "Falling Out Theme," the band compares love and war. With so many acts these days falling into the safety net of screaming and heart-on-sleeve mascara and bad haircuts, Boy Sets Fire refuses to do so, and puts their money where their mouth is.

While there are many different types of songs on the album, from the spastic "Final Communiqué" to the nostalgic "(10) and Counting," the album doesn't feel uneven in the way Tomorrow Come Today does, and I mainly believe it's because the vocals are delivered with such passion. Whether he is singing in front of an acoustic guitar or screaming behind the force of the full band, Nathan Gray's vocals have never been this good. A single listen to the closing track, "A Far Cry," will convince anyone of this. The voice pierces through the music like a bullet, unapologetically cutting down the Bush administration;

Give up because you'll never justify the blood on your fingers, the bullshit look of concern, the cover-ups, lies, and the bloated corpse of a system that is begging to burn.
After that passage, a repeating wail of "Surrender!" bridges into an ironic prayer of destruction and war, and then into a surprise re-recording of Eulogy's "Still Waiting for the Punchline."

I'll admit that before this album, I wasn't the biggest Boy Sets Fire fan. I enjoyed my copy of After the Eulogy, but it isn't an album I listen to on repeat. I was disappointed with the majority of Tomorrow Come Today, and had basically left this band for dead. This is, with all puns intended, truly a ressurrection. This album is monstrous and should not be left on the shelves. It is pertinent, it is intelligent, it deals with issues that should be dealt with, and it does so in a listener-friendly manner. It's the album that BSF needed to make, and they came through with resounding success.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
NOFX - The DeclineThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldRefused - The Shape of Punk to ComeBoy Sets Fire - After the EulogyRise Against - The Sufferer & the WitnessDillinger Four - Situationist ComedyAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseRise Against - Revolutions Per MinuteAgainst Me! - As The Eternal Cowboy

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
sugarfull (February 15, 2009)

Score is for the fact that I found this at the dollar store.

AFI-ADDICT (October 12, 2006)

I am SO glad that I got into this kind of HXC music and this band when I was younger.
They are definitely at the peak of a comeback from the slight letdown of Tomorrow Come Today!! Been expecting this FOREVER. :D

Oh, and here's a giant SCREW YOU to people who say,
"this band is fucking boring" or
"i dont like the way some songs are heavyer n some are really emo"
because, WTF do you want them to be?! Screamo, but singing BARNEY SONGS??
Holy cheese. Maybe those people should go watch some Barney, seeing as how they CAN'T POSSIBLY STAND ONE MORE EMOTIONAL (I don't say emo. That is a genre of music...) LYRIC!!!!

Ehh woooooooot for "Still Waiting for the Punchline" in After.

istapledmyfoot (August 15, 2006)

the new Misery Index is so FUCKING good.

Anonymous (May 4, 2006)

This Album Kicks The Shit.. Much better than tomorrow....Up there with After.

Since94 (April 14, 2006)

This cd sucks....good name for it though cause when I listened to it, it made me miserable.

miniblindbandit (April 11, 2006)

I thought this album was amazing. I've been listening to this and Oh Calcutta! constantly since I bought them. It's a decent review although I would say "Deja Coup" has more ska influences than pop-punk.

tylerdurden8136 (March 31, 2006)

go kill yourself, colin.

SilentStorms (March 30, 2006)

Holler at Scruffy, although I don't even listen to these guys anymore. It's think it's more of my progression as a listener as opposed to their lack of progression as musicians. What an awkward sentence.

Anonymous (March 30, 2006)

"Wow, could you please explain to everyone how you traveled in time forward 8 months to come to this conclusion? Otherwise, it sounds like the usual bullshit "this is gonna be on my top 20, for shore!" rhetoric critics like to spew. Why not just say "I like this album a lot"?"

take it easy there killer, everything's going to be ok.... just take a deep breathe and try to calm down.....

Anonymous (March 29, 2006)

As good as Stars Dont Fall

danperrone (March 29, 2006)

scruffy is on FIRE

and ATE is superior to TDTSWO because that has "cadence" and "65 factory outlets" and ATE doesn't have a bad song

that's pretty much is though, both amazing albums

Scruffy (March 28, 2006)

"People that say After The Eulogy is their best cd, need to go listen to The Day The Sun Went Out again."

Really? Because I could swear that I've listened to it enough to make my own freaking decision that while TDTSWO is a good album, and possibly a milestone in its genre, After The Eulogy is a great album, period. ATE can stand up to the best albums ever in my opinion, not just enjoyable punk albums.

Oh, wait, I forgot. The Day The Sun Went Out is the best Boysetsfire album, Hoss is the best Lagwagon album, Four Minute Mile is the best Get-Up Kids album, the self-titled is the best Pennywise album, Suffer is the best Bad Religion album, Guided Tour Of Chicago is the best Lawrence Arms album, Kerplunk is the best Green Day album and 24 Hour Revenge Therapy is better than Dear You, and if you think differently, you're stupid. Sorry, I forgot about that. How unhip of me.

notfeelingcreative (March 27, 2006)

"this band is fucking boring"

Yeah, they're not cookie cutter epifat punk.

Anonymous (March 27, 2006)

This band is awful. They used to be alright, but then darrell left. They spend too much of their time cramming coke up their noses, and not enough writing decent songs, although, maybe that was mr. hyde's job, eh fellas? Everybody knows everybody else in delaware, and i know enough to tell you, these fuckers are assholes and have fallen off in a bad way.

Anonymous (March 27, 2006)

People that say After The Eulogy is their best cd, need to go listen to The Day The Sun Went Out again.

Mute98 (March 27, 2006)

this band is fucking boring

miff (March 26, 2006)

i dont like the way some songs are heavyer n some are really emo

lender (March 26, 2006)

excellent

baseball (March 26, 2006)

cool, i'll check that one out first then

skaboom (March 25, 2006)

baseball - start with After the Eulogy. Widely considered their best album, and one of my favorite "emocore" (or whatever genre you want to call them) albums of all time.

Anonymous (March 25, 2006)

Get lost, Frank. You don't know what you're dealing with.

-Chinatown

baseball (March 25, 2006)

i feel like kind of a douchebag for never hearing an album by these guys

Frankff (March 25, 2006)

I really enjoy this album and i'm still mad i couldn't attend their show in Paris ten days ago. Fortunately i had seen them during their mini Euro tour last december, where they played a couple of new songs, but their set lasted only 45 minutes (the Locust *pukes* was headlining and some of their stupid fans ended up booing BSF).

Anonymous (March 25, 2006)

just not rockin

pabstboy (March 25, 2006)

Not a bad album, but definetly no After the Eulogy

Anonymous (March 25, 2006)

boy sets fire wants to become the next Sheer Terror

Scruffy (March 25, 2006)

I don't see how Chinatown came off as "some sort of hipster baring us the gift of music knowledge". Most of those albums have been or will be reviewed. Sw!ms is even right over to the left there in this week's reviews. Akimbo gets covered a good deal here. Pink Razors get enough hype (not a lot, but enough) that no one could act like they're special for knowing about them.
And we all list the bands and/or albums that we're totally psyched about a lot.
How was what he said wrong in any way?

Anonymous (March 25, 2006)

propagandhi's better.

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

Doesn't matter, brother, because you're still trying sooo hard.

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

Three of the records I mentioned came out in 2006. So, no, you unfortunately weren't listening to them in 2005.

-Chinatown

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

The sad thing is that Chinatown sees himself as some sort of hipster baring us the gift of music knowledge. As if we didn't all listen to those records last year.

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

that's cause he gave you a really wet blowjob after the interview you faggot

danperrone (March 24, 2006)

i can see how nathan can come off like a prick

that comes down to how tolerant of that shit you are

personally, i find it hysterical and i found it a joy to talk to him...there are reasons why he's so cynical nowadays too..nothing wrong with a little bit of a bad attitude when you're still fun to be around, na mean?

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

I just got the new Akimbo album, and I have to say that, as remarkable a comeback as this is from the gents in Boysetsfire, it doesn't compare to the sheer madness that is Forging Steel and Laying Stones. The Pink Razors, Invisible Eyes, Sw!ms, and Okay Paddy albums are tops as well.

-Chinatown

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

i like their influences ranging from the angry samoans to the devil dogs

colin (March 24, 2006)

I loved this band, and was planning on buying this. But then I read the interview with nathan and he seemed like a prick, and I haven't listened to BSF since.

so, just because you sound like a total dumbass here, that means you are one in real life and nobody listens to you?

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

I loved this band, and was planning on buying this. But then I read the interview with nathan and he seemed like a prick, and I haven't listened to BSF since.

radioXwaves (March 24, 2006)

this is one of the best new records Ive heard in recent times. BSF get high fives.

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

"One of my favorite albums of 2006."

Wow, could you please explain to everyone how you traveled in time forward 8 months to come to this conclusion? Otherwise, it sounds like the usual bullshit "this is gonna be on my top 20, for shore!" rhetoric critics like to spew. Why not just say "I like this album a lot"?

-Will

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

Great record, good to hear somebody wrting intelligent lyrics, without resorting to usual played out crap about girls and scene unity.

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

so, is nathan gay still or did he go back in the closet? in out in out, make up your fucking mind. anyone else think it was a way to get out of a marriage without coming out and saying "i'm tired of fucking you"

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

Good album. Doesn't top ATE

-Chinatown

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

wheres the devil dogs review (30 sizzling slabs??)

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

This album sucks. Is it ironic that "This Crying, This Screaming... My Voice is Being Born" had less crying than this piece of shit?

joeg (March 24, 2006)

i never "got" this band, probably never will.

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

I'd give it a 9 as well....simply an amazing album.
Love the folk influences and of course the core.
The ska songs are OK, the ballads rule and the core tunes kick major ass. Great job by BSF!!

Allular (March 24, 2006)

I agree on how the drums sound. The bass doesn't sound half too bad either.

But some of the songs just kind of sound.. off. Overproduced. Especially Track 3? I don't have the album in front of me..

I'm pretty sure that if the songs were played live, they would own.

discofucker (March 24, 2006)

I fucking love this album. I think that Deja Coup doesen't really fit the lyrics, but it is a very catchy song. The drums really are the backbone of this album, Matt did a great job.

Scruffy (March 24, 2006)

That was, of course, to the person two posts below mine. The one complaining about the near-perfect score.

Scruffy (March 24, 2006)

Then why do you come here?

I hate almost everything that I hear that Pitchfork gives a near-perfect rating to. Guess what? I don't go to Pitchfork. (I'm not saying you're a Pitchfork fan. I'm just making the analogy. Why not find a site that caters more to what you want to see?)

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

I really like this album, but I'm not sure if I like it because it's actually good or that it's just such an improvement over the last disc.

The highlight track of this album is 'So Long... And Thanks for the Crutches'. The lyrics on that song are just fucking brutal.

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

I knew this album would get a near pefect score.

I know because Boysetsfire sucks and all bands that suck get good scores on here.

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

Wheres the Sainte Catherines review?

notfeelingcreative (March 24, 2006)

The first time I saw BSF they opened for Avail and I hated them, the next time, they opened for snapcase and I thought they made a fan out of me. In my opinion, this has some of the best songs they've ever written but also some filler, I really like it, but it doesn't flow the same way "After The Eulogy" or "The Day the SUn went out" did.

GreenVandal (March 24, 2006)

you're*

GreenVandal (March 24, 2006)

Really overproduced and soulless sounding.

Actual songwriting aint bad, his lyrics have gotten even worse though. If your into newer hardcore I would pick this up, but anyone who likes their music kinda "rough" sounding should stay away.

When will people figure out that putting your guitar through pro tools doesnt make it sound good?

Scruffy (March 24, 2006)

I liked Tomorrow Come Today. There were a lot of good songs on it. It was kind of forgettable, though.
This album, to me, seems more erratic and uneven. It doesn't seem like an album so much as a collection of songs. I still really like it, as it feels more honest than the last album.
That said, nothing this band ever does will live up to After The Eulogy for me. That album is one of the best albums of all time to me. The lyrics to about half the songs perfectly fit what I was going through in my life at that time, and the music is some of the best hardcore/emo/whatever that's ever been recorded. There's a world of meaning in the line "I never thought this could be me. I guess you never do until it's happening to you."

opened_ground (March 24, 2006)

"oy Sets Fire - The Misery Index: Notes from the Plague
Posted by Cos on 2006-03-24 05:01:02

Wow. Sounds good...
--Cos
Boy Sets Fire - The Misery Index: Notes from the Plague
Posted by Anonymous on 2006-03-24 04:43:43
My Score:

Pretty awful."

I don't know what to think now.

Cos (March 24, 2006)

Wow. Sounds good...
--Cos

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

Pretty awful.

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

where is the devil dogs review from 30 sizzling slabs??

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

kind of a boring review.

wyzo

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

boy sets fire is boring

danperrone (March 24, 2006)

and colin, i am so impressed that you picked up on how amazing the drums are

such a huge fucking sound, and they're so well done...not over the top, but just like you said...the backbone

and seriously, go see them live on their next tour...they replicate the songs here PERFECTLY, including "so long..." which would be seemingly impossible to recreate live, but they did it earlier this month, horns and all...and the end of final communique? holy SHIT

danperrone (March 24, 2006)

this will be my FAVORITE album of 2006, no doubt

i don't know about BEST, but i've played this to fucking death, wherever i go

i'd give it a 9 as well

without with cold eyes and deja coup, it's almost a 10

iconoclast (March 24, 2006)

i just now listened to all the songs on this album for the first time and there's a few songs i really like, but overall im not really feelin it.
very well written review, by the way colin.

recordings (March 24, 2006)

never could get into these guys really, dunno why though. i swear to god whenever some tour comes through the mpls area and a band drops off for a date or so, BSF fills in. this has happened no less than 6 times that ive seen. its unprecedented and very creepy.

zapfino is one of the worst typefaces ever.

skaboom (March 24, 2006)

I like how Nathan went back to a snarl instead of that metalcore-ish grunting from TCT. The album isn't perfect, Deja Coup seems too bouncy for the lyrical content, and hearing the hidden ATE song after A Far Cry reminds me how hard an album that is to live up to, but it is a huge step up from the last album.

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

The most fond memory I have of a BSF show was a couple of skinheads getting their asses stomped afterwards. I guess because they kept calling Nathan a fag and the crowd got sick of it.

Godfather (March 24, 2006)

fucking awesome

aubin (March 24, 2006)

One of my favorite albums of 2006.

Anonymous (March 24, 2006)

Good album. This band gets way too much shit when there are other bands who are REALLY bad (i.e.- My Chemical Romance, Green Day, Flock of Seagulls).

After The Eulogy is still my favorite from them, but I'd also recommend this.

kindofalongwaydown (March 24, 2006)

Sooooo good. Takes me back to the ATE and Day before times.....

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