“Saves The Day” – Saves The Day

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I had the immense pleasure of seeing Saves The Day play a free show at TCNJ this past summer (I would have seen them play at Pouzzafest in Montreal too, but certain other “expenses” depleted my funds…). During the TCNJ show, frontman Chris Conley announced that the band had been hard at work in the studio recording their new album, which would be out sometime in late 2013. They then played a new track, “Ring Pop,” arguably the best song off the new album.

Imagine my surprise when out of the blue earlier in the week, my co-host Matt told me the album dropped three days ago. Clearly, I had not been following Saves The Day closely enough on the interwebs. Needless to say, I immediately hopped onto Spotify and listened to the new material. Since this particular band is one of my favorite current pop punk/indie rock acts, I knew my first impression would be biased, so I waited until my third listen-through to really let the album sink in.

It has become a standard that any band’s self-titled release needs to stand out among their other albums because, come on. It’s your band’s name right there on the record. Which is why it seems a little odd that Saves The Day decided to wait until their eighth studio album to release Saves The Day. Though as a whole, this record doesn’t quite match up with the band’s bigger albums like Daybreak and Stay What You Are, there are plenty of stand-out tracks and catchy hooks that put Saves The Day well above the bar of mediocrity. In addition, the band mixes multiple genres into the tracklist, which is definitely a first.

The standout tracks are definitely the ones that sound the most like classic Saves The Day. “In The In Between” and “Ring Pop” are my personal favorites, and it’s not hard to see why. The catchy choruses get stuck in your head the instant you hear them. Conley has finally perfected his “new” voice (circa In Reverie), and the subtle backing vocals and harmonies throughout the album very naturally complement Conley’s higher range.

As early as the opening riff on the album opener, “Remember,” it’s obvious this isn’t just another incredibly dark Saves The Day album, lyrically speaking. Practically every song has the word “love” in it, and some songs, like “Beyond All Of Time,” even venture into lame love ballad territory. On the bright side, it’s nice to not have to listen to songs about near-death experiences all the time. “Stand In The Stars” ends the album on an especially cheerful note. The tone of Conley and lead guitarist Arun Bali’s guitars remind me of the great indie group, Best Coast.

“Xenophobic Blind Left Hook” starts off with a spacey, Explosions In The Sky-esque opening. It demonstrates one of the many new directions the band’s sound is heading in, primarily due to the group’s ever-changing lineup. The lyrics also show that Conley’s lyrical style hasn’t changed a bit and is as clever as it’s ever been. Immediately following is “The Tide Of Our Times,” a two-and-a-half-minute epic-sounding jammer about the negative effects of large corporations and consumer media. Yet another new sound for the band.

All in all, Saves The Day’s self-titled album has a little bit of everything – some happy indie here, a little epic power rock there, and of course, that classic Saves The Day pop punk sound on a few tracks. This year hasn’t been too great for music when compared to other recent years, but Saves The Day is a 2013 album you won’t want to miss.

-Joe MacPhee

Recommended Jams: In The In Between, Ain’t No Kind Of Love, Xenophobic Blind Left Hook, Ring Pop

(P.S. For interested parties, Saves The Day is also headlining a show this Saturday night at the Starland Ballroom!)

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