Review Summary: The Ataris' fourth LP is a nostalgia induced ride, but it's also filled with surprisingly meaningful moments.
For a brief time back in 2003, The Ataris were huge. Their bouncy cover of Don Henley’s ‘The Boys of Summer’ was being delivered to the masses through radio stations across the country. It was the biggest hit the band had ever seen. The unbelievably catchy ‘In This Diary’ received some airplay as well, but not nearly as much as it should have. Most likely it was the band’s new label, Columbia records that helped contribute to the albums success. As a result, So Long, Astoria
found the band at their most accessible state, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Due to the improvement in the production department, the band sounds more pleasant and crisp than they ever have before.
What better to kick off band’s follow up to End Is Forever
than a nostalgia drenched song that contains lines from the cult film The Goonies? Like many of the songs the opening title track is about memories. Although it’s not the best song on the record, the lyrics alone make it one worth checking out. Towards the end of the track Kris Roe sings “This is my wish, and I’m taking it back. I’m taking them all back” For those who don’t know, The Goonies was filmed (at least in part) near Astoria. The third track ‘In This Diary’ is perhaps the most infectious song on the record. Roe sings of the best summer he’s ever had filled with lighting fireworks, listening to 80’s songs, and quoting lines from all the movies that he loves. It’s hard to imagine anyone not being connected to their past through the lyrics.
As lighthearted as the album is at times, there are actually three astoundingly meaningful tracks. The first of these tracks comes in the form of ‘My Reply’. After receiving a letter that seemed to be sealed with the last breath of a fan suffering from an eating disorder, Kris Roe wrote her a response in the form of a song. The song is highly encouraging and the chorus says to “Just hold on for one more second, Just hold on to who you are”. The fact that he took the time to write her a song full of encouragement is really inspiring. He even goes on to say “I appreciate but can’t accept, this thank you note that’s sealed with your last breath”. It could very well be the most meaningful song the band has ever written.
Another highly impacting song is the albums closer ‘Eight of Nine’. The song was written on account of several near death experiences Kris Roe has faced. He has survived a near fatal car crash and had other close calls with death, so he wrote the song about not taking life for granted. Unlike the other songs, ‘Eight of Nine’ has a much darker tone and the lyrics are rather thought provoking. Roe also shows off his personal side on ‘The Saddest Song’ which is about him being too busy on the road to watch his kid grow up. These lyrical themes make the album much more impacting and meaningful.
It’s obvious So Long Astoria
isn’t just your average pop punk outing. Even though many songs are optimistic and full of energy, others prove to be rather poignant. Unfortunately there is some filler, but the albums sincerity makes up for it. Without a doubt, it’s the band’s catchiest and most personal record. Anybody looking to revisit their past can do so with So Long, Astoria
. It’s an album that proves that being grown up isn’t half as fun as growing up.