Review Summary: Saosin create an album with an unknown audience in mind.
Saosin’s popular self-titled album was released back in September of 2006. The debut was respectable, partly due to the fact that it seemed to hint at a band that was secretly playing a deeper
and more profound style of music under their seemingly typical post-hardcore disguise. Given the impact the band’s Translating The Name
EP had on the underground music scene in 2003, many music fans expected Saosin to rise above the confines of their genre and create something new altogether; some even going as far as to say a revolution of some sort could take place. It is with that same expectation and anticipation that many will approach the band’s second major label album In Search of Solid Ground
, and as it turns out, they may be slightly disappointed.
Saosin tailors to a radio-junkie’s brand of post-hardcore--that is, screamed sections that are glossed over with production and made “acceptable” to an everyday common listener with catchy hooks. Many songs contain some kind of hook via anthem-like chorus or a catchy rhythm within the accompanying verses, but these seem to be surprisingly weaker than those featured within the band’s self-titled. This turns out to be quite odd given the fact that a scale-back in aggression usually precedes an increase in catchier choruses for this type of band; yet very few are to be found here throughout the course of the album. For example, single "Changing" features a respectable verse delivery but suddenly takes a nosedive with the chorus as it tries, and subsequently fails, to take the song to a higher level. I’m not sure what went wrong songwriting-wise, but singer Cove Reber can’t seem to take off in the chorus as he did with the band’s last album--particularly evidenced in single "You’re Not Alone". In fact, many instances such as this fill the album where the singer and the band can’t seem to match up correctly--or do so instead with undesirable results.
"On My Own" continues in like manner to the aformentioned song. However, this time the song is too long for its own good, tapering off near the five minute mark with a random assortment of ambiance and background noise. Later in the album "The Worse of Me" and "It’s All Over Now" feature typical relationship issues that sound as if a Top 40 pop punk band could have easily written them. Once again, the hooks aren’t convincing enough to warrant a repressed sound and the results are dry. Aptly titled "Nothing is What it Seems" is a lovesick ballad where the band slows their sound down even more so than before. The song is decent and captures what I believe to be the general summary and impression listeners will receive from this album after listening to it. It is repressed--strictly written on a surface level--and ultimately harmless as can be.
Closer "Fireflies" is the beginning of the end, and it broods and simmers for well over eight minutes. While listening, I couldn’t help but wish that the band would suddenly break loose from their slow, progressive style for an epic ending to the album--in doing so, throwing all pretensions and boundaries aside in the process. Instead they opt for a few rises in tempo; only to be immediately followed by a slow delivery once again. After a quick rise the song closes the album with a retreat in the form of static ambiance.
I can’t help but wonder at what exactly Saosin’s agenda is with their release of In Search of Solid Ground
. The album is not bad or terrible in any given way; it’s just disappointingly average. I also can’t seem to pinpoint which set of fans the band is trying to reach or write to here as well. Those that have followed the band since their 2003 EP will surely be disappointed, as will those that fell in love with their major label debut in 2006. New comers will also be turned off as the record is genuinely harmless and forgettable. The songs blend together with similar song structures and vocal lines; some tracks run for too long; and the hooks are not strong enough to gain them much commercial success--as far as singles go. Shame the band decided to tone down their post-hardcore element in their sound as this new direction was probably not the wisest course of action. Let’s just hope that in the future the band chooses to develop some of that rumored potential and talent the die-hard fans of Saosin seem to live and die by.