The Promise Ring - Wood/Water (Cover Artwork)

The Promise Ring

The Promise Ring: Wood/WaterWood/Water (2002)
Anti- Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: PJPJ
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It's common to hear artists talk about the stylistic detours they will be taking on their new albums. Most are simply trying to revitalize a flagging career or avoid being pigeonholed by adding some exotic instruments or electronic beats. And most of the time the album doesn't come out sounding mu.
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It's common to hear artists talk about the stylistic detours they will be taking on their new albums. Most are simply trying to revitalize a flagging career or avoid being pigeonholed by adding some exotic instruments or electronic beats. And most of the time the album doesn't come out sounding much different from the artist's previous work. However, rarely there is an album different enough from an artist's back catalogue to throw everyone for a loop, no matter how much the artist has tried to prepare the public for the change (see, for instance, Pet Sounds). The Promise Ring's Wood/Water falls solidly into that category.

In many ways, this is the traditional "growing up" album career artists inevitably produce; however, most artists hit that point while their careers are still building, not when they are established artists with over six years of experience under their belts. Singer Davey VonBohlen reiterates thoughts of doubt about his choice of career throughout the album, from the line "in a second life, I'd never become a singer...they've all gone mad, sad and lonely" in "Get on the Floor" to the sobrioquet "if I had a dime for every time I should have stopped playing guitar and put my nose in a book, my head would be healthy, my guitar would be dusty, and that might just save me from a bunch of bad songs" in "Stop Playing Guitar." These doubts are juxtaposed with the fact that the band sounds more sure and together than ever before, including new bassist Ryan Weber.

In fact, this album shows off guitarist Jason Gnewikow and drummer Dan Didier more than any of their previous work; Gnewikow reveals himself to be the glue holding the band together musically, and illustrates his ability to know when to take control or back off wonderfully. This good judgement is something that is often lacking in an age when many guitarists simply wank away, the equivilent of talking just to hear yourself speak. Didier is given meatier parts than before, expanding beyond traditional punk and rock styles. The production by Steven Street is also terrific, giving the record an overall ambience without being conspicuous.

The mainstream press has often spoken of the fact that the members of the Promise Ring listen to mainstream pop and rock, often harping on the band's love of artists such as Sheryl Crow and the Wallflowers. That populist influence shows heavily on Wood/Water, as there is no punk rock precedent one can compare the album to, save perhaps Husker Du. Listening to the album, the two records most remeniscent of Wood/Water are Wilco's Summerteeth and Travis's The Invisible Band, with hints of J Mascis's solo album. The Promise Ring are proving to be the new Husker Du, with a string of solid releases that, in my opinion, only improve on each other. Many have written off Wood/Water as just a way to escape the unfortunate label they've always been tagged with (you know what it is); however, the Promise Ring were always more than just a genre band. Listen without prejudice.


People who liked this also liked:
Jawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge TherapyThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Get Up Kids - Something To Write Home AboutAlkaline Trio - GoddamnitJawbreaker - Dear YouThe Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldRainer Maria - Long Knives DrawnThe Weakerthans - Reconstruction SiteFeist - The ReminderThe Get Up Kids - Four Minute Mile

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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.
pinkerton (January 20, 2007)

this record doesnt even deserve to be reviewed on this site, its that good.

huey (May 7, 2002)

I bought this last week. I was feeling mediocre about it after a few listens, but after letting it sink in for a few days, I feel this is a very special record. It's fucking amazing in fact. Don't write it off immediately. Give it a chance, let it sink in. This is such a relaxing record. It could very well be a masterpiece...

Anonymous (May 7, 2002)

This record takes multiple listens to dig, so kids don't give up on it. Landmark? maybe Great? definitely

Anonymous (May 7, 2002)

I have never been a big fan of the promise ring and this album, albeit more appealing than previous albums, is still sub-par. This album is so downtempo and boring, frankly. There is absolutely nothing wrong with downtempo songs, but this album just doesnt have enough substance to make many of the songs stand out. Davey's lyrics are terrible, as usual. Im sorry but the man really cant write. I will give them some credit for trying to grow out of a stagnant genre. Some emo kids will probably be really upset by this album, but there is only so long you can write the same songs about how a girl broke your heart and make it sound important. Congrats to the Promise Ring for leaving a sinking ship.

Anonymous (May 7, 2002)

I have a feeling that this album is going to be a landmark such as Weezers Pinkerton. Seriously, anyone who thinks this album sucks becasue it is slow is ignorant as hell

Anonymous (May 7, 2002)

I love The Promise Ring.
I hate this album.
This is the slowest, most boring album I have ever heard in a long time.
It is almost painful to listen to.
It will put you to sleep.
This is the only TPR album where I was happy when it was over.

Wyld_Stallyns_Rule (May 7, 2002)

Juxtaposition rules.

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