Saves the Day - Through Being Cool (retro review) (Cover Artwork)

Saves the Day

Through Being Cool (retro review) (1999)

Equal Vision Records

A large part of dubbing any piece of music as “classic” is how well that music plays on repeat. A classic album should have the ability to always bring back old listeners, but still manage to feel fresh and relevant enough to entice new ones.

Through Being Cool has that ability. Yes, the album is twenty years old, but giving it a listen, the entirety of the recording is as catchy as ever. The lyrics, written by a college-aged Chris Conley that can dip pretty deep into early aughts emo, hit just as hard as they did upon release. That’s especially true when backed up by some of the best pop-punk riffs ever put to record.

Saves the Day used Through Being Cool to pivot their sound a bit from previous releases to more of the straight pop-punk that is present throughout this record. “All Star Me” is a fantastic opener, but the thesis of the album hits on “You Vandal,” a track that opens up a bit like a melodic hardcore song, before effortlessly sliding into that wonderful chorus of “Whoa hey/ what can I do?” Through Being Cool is a lot like that song, just spread out over twelve tracks. There are some hints of Saves the Day’s older songs (“Banned From the Back Porch” has this feeling), but mostly, it’s pop-punk perfection.

Even when the record slows down the tempo, such as on “My Sweet Fracture,” the hooks are fierce as ever. “Fracture” is a fairly straightforward song lyrically, about a bad relationship, but both the chorus and bridge are equally memorable by being catchy while singing about being sad. “The Last Lie I Told” does a lot of the same, slowing down the record a bit, but keeping up with the strong lyrics and a very cool final verse with layered vocals.

It’s also impossible to talk about the record and not touch on the amazing run of tracks three through five that consists of “Shoulder to the Wheel,” “Rocks Tonic Juice Magic,” and “Holly Hox Forget Me Not.”

“Shoulder” is an all-timer of the genre, and with good reason. The chorus is immediately stuck in your head - helped out by that “the radio was playing Queen” line - and the rest of the song simply begs to be sung while driving down a highway. It’s a song that 20 years later still gets the crowds at Emo Night into a frenzy. “Rocks Tonic” takes a bit to build up, but that hook of “heart is on the floor/why don’t you step on it” is effortlessly cool. “Holly Hox” lacks traditional song structure, there’s no real chorus, but the musicianship mixed with Conley giving the vocals his all makes this song another highlight on a record of highlights.

Through Being Cool was Saves the Day’s breakthrough and it’s easy to see why: the emotion of the songs perfectly mix with the ecstatic pop-punk hooks. The album has influenced countless other bands, continues to be a hit at Saves the Day live shows, and even just got a re-release from Equal Vision with bonus content. The legacy with this album remains strong, and it continues to be cool as hell.