Straylight Run - Prepare to Be Wrong (Cover Artwork)

Straylight Run

Prepare to Be Wrong (2005)


It's hard to critique this record, just because it's so lopsided. There are moments that really do live up to the name, where it's surprising to hear this band actually produce some good music with replay value, but then there's also things like, well, some of the lyrics and the odd vocal stylings.

Prepare to Be Wrong is another one of those overhyped albums that doesn't live up to it. The album intros with "I Don't Want This Anymore," a track where the female vocals are wasted and drowned out by overproduction and computer beats, with some recorded conversation taking up way too much time in what is easily the worst track on the little six-song disc. At this point I almost gave up on listening through, but figured there's got to be some redeeming qualities to this.

"It Never Gets Easier" is a pretty standard track. If you liked the full-length album, you'll probably like this song. I was kind of disturbed by the, well, seventh grade lyrics. It's just a song about putting on a facade when talking to people and how much you can't stand idiotic conversation. Well, I can't stand songs that take themselves too seriously, and this is one of them. One positive note on this song was how towards the end, the band showed promise of getting a bit heavier than they usually show; John Nolan's vocals are getting back to the rusty quality they had with his days in Taking Back Sunday. Unfortunately, it was just for a quick thirty-second bridge.

The first two songs are probably the worst offerings of the EP. Another notably bad song is "Later That Year," which is supposed to be a protest song (as half the EP seems to protest the war in Iraq). However, these are some of the lamest lyrics ever for a protest song, with stuff like "The voice inside my head just repeated / this is not the way we were told that it was going to be...and we know who is to blame / we did the math / it wasn't worth it after all."

There's a sort of Art Theory 101 foreshadowing here as the lyrics that say, "...just repeated..." lead into two minutes of repetition. Thanks, I get it, I went to art school too. There can be beauty in brevity. Also, it sounds like John is writing about feeling duped, and at what time, I wonder, did he ever think that the war would be worth it?

"A Slow Descent" is one of the band's first songs from the original demos that flooded the Internet back when they first started up. It's a full band version, and if you liked the demo, you'd like it just as much on the EP. But that's not the surprise that the EP offers.

There are two songs on the EP that are just dynamite. One, by default, doesn't count because it's a Bob Dylan cover, and when you cover an absolutely amazing songwriter it not only makes all your writing look like complete shit, but you're bound to have a good track unless you really fuck up. So, "With God on Our Side" is good and worth a listen, even though they changed up some of the lyrics.

However, "Hands in the Sky (Big Shot)" shows what this band could, and should, be doing musically. Ambient intros done properly, paranoid and well-written metaphorical lyrics instead of the straight-forward bullshit that preceded it. Then the biggest shock, when the marching band bass kicks in and Nolan actually starts singing like he cares about something again. It's the first time I've ever heard a song by this band where John actually seems to care about the words he wrote, and seems to want the audience to care too. The ending to this song is surprising, explosive, and is easily the best song this band has ever written.

Sadly, "Big Shot" and "God" don't make this EP worth the $10 Victory wants you to spend on it. However, it does offer a glimmer of hope that the band that was built on hype and Internet drama could actually offer something substantial to the music world as they continue to grow.