I gave up on this band quite a long time ago.
While I really enjoy the maturity shown on Stay What You Are, and the amazingly heartbroken pop-punk on Through Being Cool, I felt In Reveire was not only the nail in the coffin for this band, but the casket, hearse, funeral ceremony, and hole in the ground. I am so glad I was wrong.
First things first: his voice is still annoying. Less so than it was on In Reverie, but still pretty high-pitched. I wouldn't put Chris Conley's nasal singing up there on an annoying level of Claudio from Coheed and Cambria, but definitely right alongside Adam of Taking Back Sunday. However, on Sound the Alarm, Chris revives the throaty attitude-laden vocal stylings that seemed all but dead until this point.
The good of this record is just about the entire thing. The breakdown on "Head for the Hills" is reminiscent of Through Being Cool, while the music sounds like a more aggressive Stay What You Are. The self-deprecation hasn't gone anywhere, as heard in the marvelous breakdown during "The End:"
I'm a danger to myself / always blaming someone else / Got a grenade in my mouth and my finger on the pin / ready to rip it out.The album stumbles around, almost defining itself through losing the perfectly melodic sound this band had held close to heart in earlier albums. The songs are a welcome mix of fast and slow, with the only obvious slow track being "Don't Know Why." The aptly titled album holds a certain urgency, as if any minute through the listen a certain tragedy will strike. It's an anticipation that pays off well, with the closing track stating the simple fact that everyone you know will someday die.
The record suceeds most in being an album, and not a collection of songs assembled. Thematically, musically, lyrically; everything in this record coheres brilliantly in a sickeningly desperate way. Chris Conley has contrived a sort of destitute masterpiece, singing sorrow-filled pop songs with an aggression that is subtle enough to be enjoyable without being overkill.
Any faults would be found in some of the overly poppy tracks, such as "Dying Day," where such morose lyrics are not as well-suited for such jumpy songs. However, that's not to say the songs are not enjoyable; just not as great as the rest.
For me, the standout is the title track. "Sound the Alarm" accomplishes everything the album sets out to in brilliant fashion, showing a return to a form that Saves the Day was best at, but also showing the band has room to grow, possibly away from the verse/chorus/breakdown/end formula they've come to work with so well. This isn't the Saves the Day that everyone knew five years ago, and it's not the Saves the Day everyone wrote off two years ago; this is a welcome change that should not only have old fans glad to hear, but probably turn quite a few heads along the way.