Let it be known that this album is in the forefront of the more recent emo music as a watermark. Jeremy and company created something entirely special and this album is an essential not only to those into the emo scene but as one of the greatest rock albums in recent memory.
The band went through a lot of changes after making this album in 1994. Enigk found religion and therefore disbanded SDRE shortly before their second release, a cd with a pink jacket only saying "Sunny Day Real Estate," in late 1995. In their off-time, Nate and William joined Dave Grohl's Foo Fighters, Jeremy recorded a solo album, and Daniel took to the farm life. They reconvened in 1998, minus Nate (who became a full-time bassist for the Foos), and recorded the seminal How It Feels to be Something On
, an album hailed as the return of indiedom/emodom's kings. A live album in 1999 followed on that album's coattails. The disappointing and proggier The Rising Tide
followed in 2000. By 2001, the band had officially broken up for the last time. Jeremy, William, and Nate regrouped as The Fire Theft. Daniel Hoerner played with Chris Carraba from Dashboard Confessional but left after an E.P.
Onto the music!
- This is one of SDRE's best songs and one hell of a way to start off an album. The instrumentation exhibits the skill of the band as a whole, not just the guitar, bass, or drums. As with most SDRE songs, the lyrics are pure poetry. If you have never heard Jeremy's voice, this will get you used to it. The track hits hard and By the time the song ends, you know that the rest of the album is either going to be a terrible disappointment in comparison or one of the most stellar pieces of its time.
- Overdriven guitars and a brooding bassline start off another classic SDRE track. The tension fades away for the verse where quiet guitars and bass mix with a minimalist drum backing carry Jeremy's voice to the chorus, which picks up where the intro left off. Daniel's low-pitch vocal contributions round out the chorus. "I dream to heal your wounds but I bleed myself" has been the basis for many bands since this album was released, often not doing proper justice.
Song About an Angel
- An innocent start gives way to a mournful distorted chorus featuring Daniel's most powerful vocal moment in giving the Angel distinct character under Jeremy's work as the man. Jeremy then takes over as the Angel and it still sounds great. The balance between quiet and loud is perfect. The song takes care of itself naturally, which many soft/loud dynamic songs these days are almost entirely unable to pull off without making it sound forced.
- After the sorrow of the first three tracks, this comes across as lighthearted and downright happy. Drum fills are excellent and the other instruments go about their business. There's still the intensity of the other tracks but it's not as dark. Also, this is a song with screaming that's not overt or a selling point. It is there for a purpose and is not treated as a gimmick.
- Another classic opening riff, another beautiful song. The rhythm is driving but not commanding, more like the waves in the ocean. Jeremy's voice floats along above the rest of the band and you can almost forget that there are words because of how everything flows together (not to say that you can't differentiate anything. Rather, the music is smooth and serene).
The Blankets Were the Stairs
- Here, the vocals and the instrumentations switch precedence in the verses and chorus, something made more clear by the singing of "inferior" at the start of the chorus as the words struggle to be heard above the rest of the band. The song ends on a buildup releasing to a single note.
- The piano song, but not a ballad by any means. The keys bounce along in a circus-like manner while Nate subtly carries on his own way in the background. In a mere 2:30, the song is gone almost as quickly as it came.
- Light guitars, whisper-soft vocals, shedding before long into a short release backed by the whole band, only to return to the humble beginnings. A more proper, voiceless release follows before Jeremy returns with everyone else in a half hard-hitting, half grasping-to-continue chorus.
- SDRE again goes quiet/loud here, but adds enough to the formula to prevent you from being distracted by it. The band is loud when they need to be; Jeremy whispers, sings, and screams when he needs to, but even the screaming isn't comparable to the pointless kind in most of today's music. They go for the heart, from the heart, and are all the more credible for doing so.
- Barely-there vocals, lilting harmonies with the bass and guitars, meandering drums, background ambient noise... After reading the lyrics, you understand the hopelessness of the song. This is a struggle and a defeat and one of the most beautiful songs on the album. Words barely go this justice.
- The lyrics here recall "Song About an Angel" in parts but retain their own personality. This song is intense and quite the appropriate closing track. Burning slowly, when the band lets loose the chorus and Jeremy releases "sometimes," the song truly shines. That one word is given a new power, beyond everything it once was. The album then ends and emo isn't the same.
Almost ten years after first hearing it in my brother's stereo, Diary
still sounds as fresh as it ever was. It could have been made in 1980 or 2000 and it'd still be timeless. The artwork, showcasing the trials of characters resembling Duplex (bigger Legos, if you don't know) people, itself is unique, strange, and perfect. Every note played by every instrument, every word sung by Jeremy and Daniel, every beat, sublime. This is what good music sounds like. If you do not own this album by now, you're only hurting yourself.
5/5. It is far too often that people falsely give albums a 5/5 rating. Even excellent albums only deserve a 4 most of the time. 5 stars means an album is exceptional and adds to the art of music, a neccesity for anyone who appreciates music of any type. With that said, Diary
is fully deserving of this merit. Listen and believe in the power of music.