The Starting Line
Direction


2.0
poor

Review

by Lewis P. STAFF
July 29th, 2007 | 50 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A strong case of déjà vu keeps Direction running in circles and just another Say It Like A True Story.

The boys in The Starting Line are walking a fine line between blissful ignorance and self-parody; after giving the record companies the big, threatening middle finger in their sophomore album, Based On a True Story, they’re back with their pop-punktastic take on hardcore in Direction. But Direction, working that irony that pop-punks seem so oblivious to, are dialing down their almost charmingly impressive rebellion against the big guys upstairs who tried to dictate their sound and now, unsurprisingly, seem to embrace them. Direction is covered with the fingerprints of tweaks and edits, grinding the wheels past the gravel and down into the dirt; the second track alone features a riff lifted straight from True Story. It’s disappointing for a band that seemed poised on the verge of maturing into something better.

It’s fitting then that, on an album swaying from imbalance, it slides straight out of the gate with one of the album’s most confusing tracks: ‘Direction’ gets the [mis]fortune of being the title track, jolting from the embarrassing belting of “Breakdown!” into a hardcore influenced verse (full of punk overtones from staying up late and growing out the hair, and they just – don’t – care![!!!]) before, interestingly enough, segueing into the album’s more well tuned chorus. It’s a love-hate relationship that is interchangeable with much of the record, like ’21,’ which apes almost verbatim one of the best songs from Based On a True Story, ‘Bedroom Talk.’ Fun, fast and an ode to drinking and the consequences of, it’s the stuff hooks are made of and obviously everyone involved believed so too, enough to make the album’s strongest track based completely on a song that was perfectly fine before. But like this AA track, Direction is the victim of too much: Too much production, keeping every instrument on par with each other so that some songs drop into lulls of dull noise; too much energy that goes from a stellar party album to end the summer into a tiring, boring, derived take on what Set Your Goals got to last summer; and too much of everything the band has already done, settling for half-assed recycling and chord changes.

Gone here is the quirky stumble of progressions into maturity that made True Story weightier than it was because of it; Direction is just a small step left, only varying slightly with the power-pop ballad ‘Something Left To Give’ that rides on its earnest vocals (Kenny Vasoli is still one of the genre's best) and twinkling guitars and slides. The rest of the album, with its firm grasp on the formulaic verse-chorus-verse-nauseam, is tidy and manicured into tedium, tackling bombast head on. ‘Hurry’ layers its vocals for its metronome verse before a quick pre-chorus that leads into another amplified chorus; ‘Birds’ creates this same atmosphere, instead relying on its steady reverberating guitars to keep tempo. It’s small changes that separate ‘Island’ from ‘Way With Words’ or ‘Are You Alone’’s verses from being straight out of a Saosin (post-Anthony) b-side; there’s that constant creeping feeling of familiarity, like the guitar fiddling that offsets ‘What You Want’ that was done to a sweeter, tighter effect with ‘Stay Where You Are’ (even the song’s climax into the chorus remains the same, albeit with more of a whimper).

But most of what encompasses the album can be summed up in the album’s most telling track, ‘Need to Love,' a more stripped down version of everything that comes before and after it. Its cleaner guitars and sweet back and forth vocals prepare it for a refreshing change of pace, but it’s all frivolous and manipulative, complete with a chorus consisting mainly of the title repeated until the words just mean as little as the passion behind it. Missing the satirical, naïve sexuality of ‘Bedroom Talk’ or the fleeting teenage love of ‘Stay Where You Are’ (or even the overrated Say It Like You Mean It’s ‘Best of Me’), ‘Need to Love’ sounds like corporate dogs salivating to teenage hearts lined with “When you're in need and desperate to fall asleep, well, ain't it wild? Though aren't you tired?”

But at the end of the day, under its panache for crass, loud hook-and-sinkers, Direction is The Starting Line “[biting] off a little more than [they] can chew.” Even free of the crippling similarities to its predecessors, Direction is nothing more than an average retelling of a year that already got to it first and to higher degrees of success. Directionless and an ironic turn of events that finds The Startling Line running in circles, Direction brings them right back to where they started in Say It Like A True Story, almost eager to do it all over again.


stream: http://www.myspace.com/thestartingline



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user ratings (119)
Chart.
3.3
great
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David James Young (3.5)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
plane
Staff Reviewer
July 29th 2007


6094 Comments


So I'm prepared for this to get negged into oblivion from album supporters, but this album really did nothing for me. I wanted to like it a lot after Based on a True Story, I just didn't expect it to be almost the exact same thing. I don't expect a lot of people to agree with me.

Also, I love them brackets.

lunchforthesky
July 29th 2007


1039 Comments


I was thinking of doing this one. I agree with what you said. It's bland, safe and ultimately pretty boring.

I would of gone 2.5 cause pop punk is supposed to be kinda safe and fans of the genre would like this, but it's pretty poor and generic.

Good job on the review.

Fire Away
July 29th 2007


293 Comments


that yellow arrow makes it look like it says THE STARTING LINEZ

Willie
Moderator
July 29th 2007


16049 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I don't really agree with the review at all. The edge they added back seemed to make this a less safe album, whereas True Story seemed like the pop-drenched album the labels would love them to put out.

As for the album sounding too familiar, that would happen even if this was their first album cause its pop-punk, and it always sound familiar cause some other band from Blink-182 to New Found Glory have already done it before.

Despite totally disagreeing, I'm not going to "Neg" the review because I thought that was for if the review had deficiencies, not if the opinion of the review was disagreed with.

Digging: Skrew - Universal Immolation

plane
Staff Reviewer
July 29th 2007


6094 Comments


True Story had some variety from song to song, though. It wasn't a genre staple for originality, but it at least seemed like it tried to be different; here, they trip all over the added hardcore influences and it's just clumsy.

I noted the pop-punk thing in the last paragraph, but it's not just this sounding familiar in the obvious sense. I mean, some riffs are lifted straight from other shi. There are some songs I just can't tell the difference between because most of what they're doing is so similiar.

I will probably lift this up to a 2.5, but I can't stand it past a few lessons.

Willie
Moderator
July 29th 2007


16049 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I wouldn't give it more then a 3, and probably couldn't listen to it more then occasionally either. I just think its, at least, an attempt at doing something more then their last album, which was horrible.

Oh, and I guess I forgot to mention that it is a good review though, and I did vote that way.

cbmartinez
July 29th 2007


2525 Comments


Did this come out in Europe or something? Cause it's being released on the 31st.

Anyway, I've only listened to "Direction" and "Island" and I came to love both songs. I felt the same way this review reflects about Based On A True Story when it came out . The first album is just straight up, fast paced pop punk and it will probably always be their best. I thought Based On A True Story they fell victim to the pop punk band cliche where they go for the slower ballad songs on the second album or try to go for a more mature sound. And in some ways that's true. Only a few of the songs are really straight up traditional pop punk with fast progressions, jumpy lead lines and really no variation in the 4/4 or 6/8 rhythms, usually just straight eighths. The songs are lot more varied rhythm wise, guitar work wise, etc. Anyway, I came to love the album. I mean it's still as catchy as Say It Like You Mean It, it's just a more mature take on songwriting. But man, does "Photography" suck. That was a classic example of them succumbing to that pop punk cliche.

Anyway, I'm going to be taking the same approach with this album. The Starting Line are one of my favorite bands and I'm not gonna write this album off like I did with BOATS at first. I'm gonna listen to it for what it is, not judge it against older albums.

Nice review though man.

Willie
Moderator
July 29th 2007


16049 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Did this come out in Europe or something? Cause it's being released on the 31st.
It is going to be released on the 31st, but the whole thing is available on their Myspace page for streaming.

plane
Staff Reviewer
July 29th 2007


6094 Comments


I thought Based On A True Story they fell victim to the pop punk band cliche where they go for the slower ballad songs on the second album or try to go for a more mature sound. And in some ways that's true.

I really wasn't a fan of their debut, so that's probably why I liked True Story more. It's still only a 3/5, but it was at least fun to listen to and seemed like they were trying to branch out from their old sound. It only got boring with time and more listens. This is just flat our boring within the first four songs.

But even for what it is, without judging it against older albums, it's still really boring, but I figured I had better point out the blatant similarities between True Story and Direction. Same shit, same band.

AtavanHalen
July 29th 2007


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Based On A True Story is a favourite record of mine. I actually see them as a lot more than a "generic pop-punk" band- I have a connection with their music, particularly Kenny's lyrics.

Writing my review of this new album as we speak.
Not too sure what to say yet.

I don't think I'll necessarily agree with what you say, but you write well.

Iamthe Nightstars
July 31st 2007


2282 Comments


Pretty good review. Okay cd, I guess. Too early for me to have a strong opinion yet. But, I still think that Say It Like You Mean It is easily TSL's best cd.

plane
Staff Reviewer
July 31st 2007


6094 Comments


Meh. Most of everything The Starting Line has done is boring. This album is still so boring.

cbmartinez
August 1st 2007


2525 Comments


This CD is pretty awesome so far.

cbmartinez
August 1st 2007


2525 Comments


Take that back. Pretty mediocre.

plane
Staff Reviewer
August 1st 2007


6094 Comments


Well yeah. 'Direction' grew on me, but it's the only track I listen to. This has actually gotten worse.

cbmartinez
August 2nd 2007


2525 Comments


Eh, I can't make up my mind. "Something Left To Give" and "Birds" are pretty incredible. "Way With Words" and "Somebody's Gonna Miss Us" are up there too. And the guitar work on the last song is really neat. But overall, nowhere near as catchy as their previous work. But I said that about Based On A True Story at first, so I'm still gonna give this time.

Conky
August 2nd 2007


227 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

First of all nice review. I just briefly listened to this album and it's a bit of a change for The Starting Line, well not quite a change but an upgrade. It's hard to say but you can tell it's The Starting Line but they sound a little different. From what I listened to I like this album.

Iamthe Nightstars
August 3rd 2007


2282 Comments


"Most of everything The Starting Line has done is boring."

Completely false. I guess if you think "verse chorus verse" is boring than sure. But, TSL has written many good songs. Selected Attention, Piano Song, Playing Favorites, just to name a few.

plane
Staff Reviewer
August 3rd 2007


6094 Comments


I don't think the "verse chorus verse" is boring if done right and in a way that isn't so tedious and overdone. The Starting Line have written a few good songs, but I find everything else really boring. But I don't get why just because you happen to like those songs when I don't makes my statement completely false.

DhA
August 3rd 2007


421 Comments


Island is a really good track.



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