Review Summary: A thoroughly enjoyable album which provides the link between the genres so-cal skate punk era and its faux-emo future.
In 2002 The Starting Line managed to write somewhat of a sleeping classic in Say It Like You Mean It
. At the time the band really didn’t stand out too strongly unlike say New Found Glory
but with the benefit of hindsight this album really paved the way for what pop punk has become some five years later. Where as Green Day
and Blink 182
built pop into their punk rock roots The Starting Line took that sound and added a melodic, even poppier element which is now clearly visible almost all mainstream pop punk bands currently filling up the airwaves. Where as New Found Glory
owed their sound largely to Blink 182
and Green Day
with The Starting Line
there is a stronger link to The Get Up Kids
and Saves The Day
. Unfortunately The Get Up Kids
never really broke into the mainstream like they deserved but their sound as inherited by countless other bands broke through around the time of this album. Say It Like You Mean It
provides the link between the old and new sound of pop punk and for better or worse it is clear by the downfall of bands like Allister
and Home Grown
that The Starting Line
won out. The album itself in one of transition for the band as well as the scene, it appears by 2005’s Based On A True Story
that the band had found the sound they wanted to make where as on Say It Like You Mean
It we have a mix of extreme pop hooks with at times a slower more insightful style which became more prevalent on the bands follow up.
Of course it would be madness to even begin to discuss this album without mentioning its catchiest, greatest and most successful song, the pop punk classic that is, The Best of Me
. The song is to my mind the perfect pop punk track, it has a huge chorus, great catchy versus and even the lyrics aren’t that bad. The harmonies are flawless as you’d expect from any Drive Thru Records
band and Kenny’s youthful boy band vocals only seal the deal. The guitars aren’t anything spectacular but there interesting and more than just power chord after power chord. Looking back the lyrics seem basic but when this album was made they were actually deep when compared to Blink’s songs about having intercourse with a variety of animals. Up and Go
kicks of the album and is in a similar vein to The Best of Me
, as is Leaving
the song which follows it. Both have that anthemic sing-a-long feel which just begs to be played to a crowd of adolescents.
Sadly like many influential albums it in itself is not actually all that great an album. Yes there are songs here which stand as some of the finest pop punk ever written but at the same time there is much in the way of filler which harks back to their uninspired debut EP, With Hopes of Starting Over
. For example Left Coast Envy
and Cheek to Cheek
both add nothing other than being an extra song, in truth neither are particularly bad songs per se, but there weak in comparison to the rest of Say It Like You Mean It
. Decisions, Decisions
is somewhat slower and features an excellent outro with the lyrics, “He loves you, who loves you more.”
Kenny isn’t a brilliant lyricist but there is a charming yet simple honesty about them. In the same way that Jimmy Eat World
’s lyrics have never been anything special but that there is an endearing quality in their simplicity.
Within the genre this album sits just below definitive classics like Green Day
and Blink 182
’s Enema of The State
and like those albums the actual songs don’t truly merit that particular moniker. Yet Say It Like You Mean
is still a truly enjoyable record in every sense of the word, it doesn’t provide anything stunning but its packed with some of the catchiest pop punk ever recorded and is definitely both a refreshing change from the current scene but also more meaningful that what there contemporaries ever achieved.
The Best of Me
Up and Go