Saves the Day - Under the Boards (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Saves the Day

Under the Boards (2007)


In several interviews, Saves the Day frontman Chris Conley has already admitted that a healthy portion of Under the Boards was actually written shortly after the release of 2003's abysmal In Reverie. That means some of the material here is not only close to four-years-old already, but that Conley deliberately left it off their 2006 comeback, Sound the Alarm. From there, Conley realized he had a storyline going that he could continue with Under the Boards and mark it as the second part of an ongoing trilogy, Boards acting as "reflection and remorse" after Alarm's "expression of discontent."

Consequently, Under the Boards sometimes comes off just like what it is -- Sound the Alarm's rejects. Luckily, that album was strong enough to produce a theoretically solid collection of B-sides...not that Under the Boards is such. The foremost example is "Radio," where Conley serves up a totally generic and predictable yet somehow enjoyable chorus, proving that while the band sometimes slips into a terribly formulaic groove, it's one they've largely established themselves over the years.

However, Under the Boards has a few ticks about it that keeps it a fairly strong album in and of itself, carrying the angst of Sound the Alarm and the quirky pop of In Reverie while avoiding the latter's pitfalls. The opening / title track is a throbbing, bass-y number that's easily one of the disc's best, where Conley carries ambles along a dark mutter that sets the theme for the rest of the album: suicide as a means to an end. While he's not always explicit about it, Conley sings as earnestly as he can about wanting to kill himself, like the album's lyrical low point, "Woe," and "Getaway," where he bluntly blurts "I'm gonna end it all in the light at the break of dawn." He's very convincing, too; Conley's voice hasn't sounded this sincere and honest since 2001's Stay What You Are. That earnestness culminates in "Stay," a slow-moving and layered acoustic break where you'll only feel pity towards Conley when he wails at the top of his lungs, "I thought you'd save me from myself with love."

Still, Conley balances his famous contrast between dark lyrics and upbeat pop in plenty of enjoyable numbers like the bouncy "Bye Bye Baby," the aggressively shifty "Because You Are No Other," the aforementioned "Radio," the stupidly catchy "Can't Stay the Same" and "Getaway" with its bizarre "uga cha" sample towards the end.

Under the Boards may be rather depressing and far from the band's best efforts, but Saves the Day still manage to turn in a strangely solid arrangement of weird, mostly unique and moody songs.

Under the Boards