STD smooth their sound without losing their edge
By SAM DERHEIMER
Assistant Scene Editor
Pop is such a nasty word. Especially in the world of emo. It invokes low groans and exaggerated sighs of assumed disgust. It's sort of that invisible line you dare never cross least you experience the same fate as Green Day. But pop-punk is not necessarily an oxymoron.
With their most recent full-length release, Say What You Are, Jersey emo boys Saves The Day have found a way to inject a little soul and real power into more radio-friendly anthems of punk angst and awkwardness.
Say What You Are is the third installment from Saves The Day, and marks a significant transition away from pure punk and toward a smoother, more melodic pop-punk sound — thanks in no small part to new producer Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliot Smith).
From the opening cord of Say What You Are, this is a different Saves The Day. "At Your Funeral" slowly drifts its way out of the speakers as lead vocalist Chris Conley softly wails "This song will become the anthem of your underground …" But just as you're ready to completely write them off, another casualty of the TRL disease, the boys rock through. "At Your Funeral" explodes with a heavy punk hook that circles through the rest of the song, as Conley howls in perfect harmony. It's smooth and clear and bounces, and yet, it's not utterly lame at the same time (who knew those two concepts could be intertwined?).
Throughout Say What You Are, Saves The Day erupts with pop-punk melodies and sincere, biting lyrics and attitude. "As Your Ghost Takes Flight" combines smooth production with a sharp guitar crunch and a hard-line that keeps Saves The Day from accusations of going soft: "The last time that I saw you, August of '99/ I should have had my hammer and a few rusty spikes/ To nail you on a wall, and use bottles to catch your blood/ And display you for the neighbors so they knew your time had come."
Saves The Day – Conley on vocals, Dave Saloway and Ted Alexander on guitar, Eben D'amco on bass and Bryan Newman on drums – never lose their edge on Say What You Are, despite their newly installed cohesive pop-punk sound. "Cars and Calories" bounces as Conley laments about the "The plastic canopy of U.S. royalty" – "royalty" referring to U.S. celebrities.
As his band grooves with a fat, rolling hook behind him, Conley preempts any critics of the group's new direction in "Jukebox Breakdown": "And all you want from me is a broken heart and a mouth full of blood/ And I'll carry this casket if its what I have to do ... The jukebox is in the corner/ My mouth is the speaker/ It plays your favorite songs and you know where the coin slot is."
The perfect marriage of Blink182 and At The Drive-In Say What You Are may not be, but in all honesty, it's fairly damn close.
All Scene Stories for Tuesday, February 12, 2002