Saves The Day, Under The Boards

Saves The Day, Under The Boards

Why do I keep doing this to myself with this band? I’d enjoyed what I’d heard of Saves The Day’s older stuff, so when Stay What You Are came out, I picked it up, mostly on the strength of “At Your Funeral”…and promptly discovered that the rest of the album was just “eh,” at best.

Now, here I am again with this band, eagerly snatching up their latest, Under The Boards, in the hopes that, well, it’ll be freakin’ great. And sadly, it’s not. I’ve built up the expectations yet again to the point where the actual music just can’t match it. And no, that’s not really the band’s fault, but mine, for letting myself run away with it, totally unheard. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

That said, when I declare that Under The Boards isn’t a great album, that’s a little on the harsh side — it may not be great, no, but it is pretty good, a mile or two better than Stay What You Are (barring “At Your Funeral,” that is). There are definitely some interesting, hooky songs on here, particularly the aptly radio-friendly “Radio,” which has a catchy-as-hell yell-along chorus, the straight-up power-pop of “Bye Bye Baby,” and album bookends “Under The Boards” and “Turning Over In My Tomb.” There’s a friendly, easily-approachable, endearingly dorky quality to a number of the songs that I can’t help but like, and I do indeed find myself humming snatches of a handful of tracks later on in the day.

In between the bright spots, though, the songs just sort of zip past, flitting through without making a huge impression beyond, “hey, that sure sounds like something I’ve heard before.” Which has got to be a little painful for the Saves The Day crew, seeing as they helped create that general sound that seems to have been co-opted in recent years by every young rock band and their brother(s). I guess that’s the problem with being a band that provides at least part of the blueprint everybody else follows: if you don’t make a whole lot of forward progress, you inevitably get lumped in with all the second-generation kids who learned from you in the first place.

Not that the band’s not trying to expand their horizons, mind you. With Under The Boards, Saves The Day feels like a band that’s trying to outgrow its roots, broadening its musical palette to include darker, moodier colors along with the tried-and-true bright, cheery hues. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work — the darker, less-poppy tracks stick out like a sore thumb in the midst of the full-on emo-rockers.

Take the title track, for example; it’s murky, cold, and oddly reminiscent of The Bends-era Radiohead, right down to the Thom Yorke-esque vocals and bombastic loud/soft guitars. On its own merits, it’s a damn good song, probably one of the best on the album. It’s just that it sounds totally out of place. Ditto with the “heavier” tracks at the disc’s end, like “Woe” and “Turning Over In My Tomb.” Good, but not good here.

It doesn’t help, by the way, that the bulk of the songs on Under The Boards are short, even by post-emo standards; not a one breaks the 3:30 mark, which has the unfortunate effect of making some of the songs, at least, feel like they end prematurely, like they’re meant to keep going through another verse or bridge or something. This is particularly evident on the jump between the opening title track and followup “Radio,” where I keep having to check the CD player to make sure the first song didn’t just shift gears and head in a different direction.

There’s something to be said for segueing neatly between tracks, sure, but in this case it’s just plain confusing. Where does “Kaleidoscope” end and “Woe” begin? Well, after “Kaleidoscope” hits 3:17, but you might not realize that when the guitars barely miss a beat. This is one of those odd times where normally good production is itself the problem.

I know, I know — I’m being negative as all hell here. I just can’t help it, honest; I really want to love this disc, but it’s just not happening for me like I’d hoped it would. It’s partly expectations and partly execution, and the combination of the two makes Under The Boards a difficult album to really embrace, at least for me. I can already tell I’m going to like the songs I already like quite a bit, but I have a sneaking suspicion that that’s as far as it’s gonna go.

(Vagrant Records -- 2118 Wilshire Blvd., PMB 361, Santa Monica, CA. 90403; http://www.vagrant.com/; Saves The Day -- http://www.myspace.com/savestheday)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Friday, January 11th, 2008. Filed under Reviews.

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One Response to “Saves The Day, Under The Boards

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Tonight: Russian Circles (MP3) + The Fox Derby + La Snacks + Clory Martin + Saves The Day + More on June 28th, 2012 at 12:38 am

    […] The Day/Bayside/I Am The Avalanche/Transit @ Warehouse Live (Studio) Yeah, yeah — I know I’ve been pretty harsh on Saves The Day in the past. What can I say? I freaking loved (hell, “love”) “At […]

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