Review Summary: Unique in a pretty good way
Say Hello to Sunshine is packed with emotion, and this emotion drove the album to the heights it has reached. In this genre, it is important to create a good listening environment, so to speak. An example of this is shown in the first few seconds of the first track, Insomniatic Meat, where there are weird sounds of which the source is difficult to determine. Finch utilized these distorted or non-instrumental sounds throughout the album, and they give the album and almost spooky feel. This is no doubt intentional, and a place where the album derives a lot of its quality. This pseudo-spookiness is seen in other areas as well, take for example Nate Barcalow's somewhat quiet, scratchy vocals at the start of Ink. Just for a little personal input, if I was in a dark room and heard a sound like that in the distance, I would cower in fear. It's awesome that Say Hello to Sunshine is able to synthetically create a creepy environment for its listeners. It's what makes this album better than typical post-hardcore crap.
Musical technicality is not in the lacking here either, though the band would do better with an expanded role for its bassist (or at least turn the volume up on the damn instrument) and would benefit from having their drummer not rely so much on his snare for his fills. The bassist sees some somewhat solo action in the middle of the song Miro, an excellent change-up in the flow of the song. The guitar riffs are really cool and creative, and the bass and drums are able to keep up and support. Also, Finch throws in some time signature changes, such as at the beginning of Ink before the vocals. Barcalow is extremely flexible with his vocals even though his vocal range when he actually sings in is somewhat limited. His screams and other strange noises create a good variation to the typical punkish sound of his voice. Overall it is rare to see such technical proficiency from a band in this genre.
Some may wonder why this album did not receive a 4.5 or a 5 after the praise it received here. I'd tell those people to bear in mind that a 3.5 rating describes a "great" album, which is what Say Hello to Sunshine is. It is not excellent, and it does not really break down barriers in the genre. The band does some cool things with time signature, has a creative guitarist, and a singer whose voice a lot of people like, but there would need to be something ground-breaking about this album for it to do better. The album is also extremely experimental and some of the experiments don't really work. The Casket of Roderic Usher is 1:50 of screaming which is less spooky than unpleasing to listen to. Though one clunker of a song is to be expected when a band has the courage to have a 14 song album. This is quality music and an album many people would enjoy listening to, and I'm sure many people have since this thing is like 7 years old.