Review Summary: The good, the bad, and the uninspired.
If there is one thing that I've learned through my history of obsessing over certain bands like Gollum and his ring it is that expectations are a bitch. As hard as I try not to get sucked in to the internet hype machine sometimes its impossible. Especially when it comes to Max Bemis. As the main creative force behind Say Anything his most recent albums, 2004's ...Is a Real Boy
and 2007's In Defense of the Genre
, are the pinnacle of the last decade of pop punk. How excited was I when news broke that he would be working with Save The Day's Chris Conley and in a new project entitled Two Tongues? Even though Conley's work in Saves the Day has been progressively lagging since the early part of this century its hard to deny how good he was on the near flawless Stay What You Are
and Through Being Cool
. Unfortunately Two Tongues follows the same path as Save the Day's career, a strong first half that worsens as it goes along.
Two Tongues' eponymous debut starts out strong with "Crawl". "Crawl" was the first track to be released on their myspace a few months ago and with good reason. The soft-loud dynamics of the verse and booming chorus make it sound like it would fit perfectly on Say Anything's In Defense of the Genre
. Sadly the next track, "I Could Make You Do Things", is a lazy Saves the Day-esque duet that is made tedious by Bemis' and Conley's vocal interplay. Going back and forth from Max's bark to Chris' nasally timbre is just too grating of a dynamic. By this point in Two Tongues you are pretty much given the main template for the rest of the album and its greatest flaw. There is nothing that sonically differentiates Two Tongues from Bemis' and Conley's other works. As the album continues there are still a couple more worthwhile tracks before it plunges into the abyss. "Dead Lizard" draws from the guitar driven stylings of Saves the Day's Sound the Alarm
to make the strongest song on the album. It is also the first track to feature Conley in a main vocal role. "Wowee Zowee" might just be the catchiest song that Conley has penned since 2000's Stay What You Are
. Its rumbling bass, catchy power chords, and sing-a-long chants of "Hey! Hey! Cut it out! What you gonna do about it/ I don't wanna go home unless I'm not alone/ Well you shut me out!/ I won't let you go" are sure to be stuck in your head for weeks.
Here's where Two Tongues run out of ideas. Its easier to get blood from a stone than to find a shred of enthusiasm or creativity on the latter parts of the album. "Come On" is a worthless track. Clocking in at a minute and forty four seconds it is simply nothing more than repetitious chorus that espouses the song's title about 20 more times than necessary. By this point all the energy that was built and barely maintained through "Wowee Zowee" is gone. "Alice" is Two Tongues attempt at a darker track but instead it reeks of unenthusiastic vocals and clumsy lyrics. If Conley and Bemis injected just a little bit of passion in their performances "Alice" could have been at least a decent track, but like the last eight tracks (with the exception of "Wowee Zowee") it is easily forgettable. "Back Against the Wall" is easily the worst song on the album. It greets you with some ugly synth sounds that sound like they were culled off of some crappy Sega Genesis game and the main guitar riff is ridiculously dated. If that wasn't bad enough the vocal trade offs during the verse are so forced that its just embarrassing.
If Two Tongues was released as an EP then it probably would have lived up to the mass of hype surrounding it, but as an album it is driven down by too much filler and a lack of energy. Its a shame really, because it had the potential to be something great. If Max Bemis and Chris Conley decide to team up again in the future lets just hope they step out side their comfort zone for more than 15 minutes.
Album is streaming at http://www.myspace.com/twotonguesrock