The Spill Canvas - No Really, I'm Fine (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Spill Canvas

No Really, I'm Fine (2007)


There are times that occasionally arise when I wish I could assign a release a higher score based on something other than the music therein. The production value on Bullet for My Valentine's latest DVD, for example, easily deserves a 10/10. The cutely inane artwork on Limbeck's self-titled is surely worth more than the 7/10 I handed the album. And the Spill Canvas…well, they're just really nice guys. Dragged around the Warped Tour by my girlfriend, she eventually decided she wanted her ticket signed by the Spill Canvas. I suggested it was cheesy and a waste of time, but then again who was I to argue? After all, I had accompanied her to Warped Tour against my better judgment in the first place and I wasn't about to go question the standard practices at such an event. And so while the machismo punk vendors sat in the comfort and shade of their tents, calling people "faggots" and griping about God knows what, the Spill Canvas sat at a table, unprotected from the blistering sun, and must have signed at least 200 autographs in the ten minutes I stood in line. And on the quixotic grounds of placating a significant other, I couldn't have been any happier with that "performance."

Unfortunately, these collective words do not exist to linger in warm memories, but to provide a fair assessment of No Really, I'm Fine, the latest offering from Sioux Falls' the Spill Canvas. Former Nodes of Ranvier screamer Nick Thomas mans the helm of this oft-acoustic emo vessel, which makes comparisons to Chris Carrabba and his musical devolution seem more tangible than they really are. I mean, "Christian hardcore frontman starts acoustic side project, leaving behind former band as new emo outlet blossoms to full-band capacity" could be stamped on either party, but it wouldn't well describe how the Spill Canvas sounds. In all actuality, somewhere between the All-American Rejects and Matchbox 20 there was a niche waiting to be filled, and the Spill Canvas rushed in.

The borderline radio-friendly rock has its ups and downs on No Really, I'm Fine, which haphazardly mold this uneven album. The upbeat "Reckless Abandonment" and "The Truth" open promisingly, as the former spits some unexpected venom from the normally passive lyricist: "I'm not concerned with all those little pricks and all their little scenes / But I do believe in those who try to do their best before they die." All too often though, No Really has to dig itself out of its own graves -- like the atrocious Nickelback-cum-eyeliner melody in "Low Fidelity" -- before it can stagger on to its less trite attempts like the brash, Spitalfield-sounding "Bleed, Everyone's Doing It": "Don't get distracted by the puppet show of politicians / They put one on every single year / Take all excuses your fear produces and line ‘em up in a row / We're gonna execute them, then salute them, and let our courage grow."

Into the valleys of this capricious rollercoaster, there's a surplus of predictable components to the standard emotional rock arsenal. Strings pop up on both "Appreciation and the Bomb" and "Lullaby," the album's token tearjerker ballad. The cheesy melodramatic vocals are hard to bear, but Thomas' mastery of the thoughtful yet oh so emo diction is hard to dismiss, as he affectionately reports in "One Thing Is for Sure," "There are things in this world that I don't understand / Like love, war, gravity, and the lay of the land / All of these remain mysteries, but one thing is for sure: You are worth living for." While the romantically content me of current is only mildly drawn in by such lovelorn proclamations, the post-breakup me of two years ago would have eaten it right up.

No Really, I'm Fine is about as middle of the road as any polarizing emo act today could hope (?) to achieve. Sure, we're not talking anything outside of the typical cookie cutter concoction, but spread evenly between the overcooked and undercooked of the baking sheet are a handful of tender creations that turn out just how they're supposed to.