It’s a shame that since writing two seminal works in the pop-punk/emo genre, Chris Conley has released nothing groundbreaking with Saves the Day. The loss of Eben D’Amico’s extraordinary basswork surely contributed to the commercial and influential decline of the New Jersey fourpiece, but the biggest draw of the band had always been Conley anyways. Unfortunately, both vocally and lyrically, Conley has seen better days. It seems that as the timbre of Conley’s voice steadily rises, interest in Saves the Day concurrently wanes. Perhaps more importantly, his pretty yet precise lyricism has vaporized, leaving behind hollow sentiments dressed up in deceptive metaphors. Thus, it comes as a surprise to nobody that the last installment of an apparent trilogy, Daybreak
, was released with little fanfare and even less impact.
Ten years before this release, Conley likely never would have needed to draw inspiration from Orwell’s 1984
in his songwriting, but on the off chance that he did it anyways, anything less than a fresh take on overused “big brother” concepts would have been unthinkable. Yet Daybreak
’s ‘1984’ is a thoroughly uninteresting affair, marked by lazy Green Day-sized guitars and lackluster lyrics. There’s a late-song surge that attempts to redeem the song, but Conley’s uninspiring “I need you/ I need your love” drains the song of its momentum. And so it is with the rest of the album. A five-part suite, the potentially standout opener contains strong second and fourth sections that are hampered by a laid-back, almost early-era Maroon 5 sounding third section. In the otherwise incredibly solid closer, Conley’s nasally, high-pitched voice clashes with the prominent guitarwork, thus robbing the song of any redemptive value it otherwise contained. In fact, the album’s strongest effort, the dreamy 'Chameleon,' features a soft-rock tone completely removed from the band’s punk roots. The gentle, if at times dissonant, instrumentation suits Conley’s voice much better than any other track here, perhaps a sign that Saves the Day should ditch the power and punk in their pop completely.
But ultimately, Daybreak
is an album that leaves me wondering if Chris Conley’s river of emotion has run dry. The sentiments and the metaphors are still there, but without the sincerity that made his earlier work so compelling, the lyricism is lacking and even laughable. It’s perhaps more attributable to his voice change than his emotion, but in Daybreak
Conley never has the convincing delivery that poignantly nailed potentially cliched or sappy sentiments in better years. Combine this with his poor vocal performance on upbeat tracks that no longer paint vivid stories and the result is a record that fails to make any impression at all. Considering Daybreak
is the end of a trilogy, now may be a logical stopping point for Saves the Day, with only Conley the remaining member from the band’s heyday anyways. If the best the group can come up with is mediocrity, then perhaps it’s for the best.