Review Summary: "How it Feels to be Something On" is the deepest, most emotionally rewarding album of Sunny Day Real Estate's career, and one of the finest come-back albums imaginable.
There are obvious differences in the two short-lived eras of Sunny Day Real Estate, however, these difference are by no means in regards to the quality of music produced by each respective incarnation. While the Seattle-based alternative rockers first succeeded by championing emotionally-charged songs with a punk-ish energy, the second mark of the band indulged in a more subdued sound that allowed them to reach depths of introversion and emotion only hinted at by the bands original pair of albums. With “How it Feels to be Something On”, the newly reformed Sunny Day Real Estate crafted an incredible album that is permeated by an atmosphere that is simultaneously comforting and melancholic. The album offers a wholly captivating journey of self-discovery and reflection, and it is so expertly crafted that it all but demands to be described as flawless.
The journey begins with album highlight, “Pillars”, a song that is driven by its gloomy bass line, accented by sparse, subtle guitars, and anchored by Jeremy Enigks meandering vocal melodies, which unforgettably evolve into what is easily the most devastating chorus of the band’s career. The song details the painful realization of a failed relationship, and is perhaps the darkest, most depressing entry in the band’s catalogue. Other highlights include “Every Shining Time You Arrive”, an enthralling ballad that shines just as much as its title suggests, “100 Million”, a scathing, eye-opening assault on the greed of humanity, “The Prophet”, which showcases the band at their most progressive, and “Guitar and Video Games,” an absolutely breathtaking work of beauty that stands amongst the finest songs ever crafted by the band. As a whole, every song on the album works together in an outstanding fashion- they are all clearly meant to be heard as one cohesive unit, but they never share too many similarities with one another, which prevents the album from ever growing stale during a full listen, and though the track "Two Promises" comes off as a bit weak in comparison to the rest of the songs, it does little to detract from such a stellar album. All of the band members turn in precise, competent performances, and the production channels the album’s unique atmosphere perfectly while allowing every instrument to stand out when it needs to.
In conclusion, with “How it Feels to be Something On,” Sunny Day Real Estate beat the odds to succeed in a way that probably seemed impossible after the quick break up that was the result of their apparently tumultuous original heyday. While it may not be the alternative rock landmark that “Diary” was, “How it Feels to be Something On” is the deepest, most emotionally rewarding album of the band’s career, and one of the finest come-back albums imaginable.
How it Feels to be Something On
Guitar and Video Games