It's been a while since BoySetsFire graced us with a studio output. Their last album "tomorrow come today" is dated 2003, which is not because they ran out of ideas. A dispute with their former label and the loss of their bassist marked challanges that had to be taken. But since 2005, BSF have a new home: Burning Heart Records, label of bands like The Hives, Refused, Raised Fist, Millencollin and Turbonegro.
Their sound has changed a bit, which is no suprise with a break of three years. Though you can clearly identify rhis record as a BSF record on the first listen, you notice as well that new elements have entered the songs. Piano lines, ska-like trumpets, to just name a few. The feel of the songs has changed as well. You have songs that are similar to "Release the Dogs" or "After the Eulogy", though that is more the exception on this record. Screaming is present, but on most songs only as background. Most noticable change for me are the emotions delivered. "tommorow come today" had this 'Something is wrong in this world, we have to stand up and do something'-feel for me. "The Misery Index" rather has this 'I can bear this melancholy anymore, why can't you see that all this has to change? DO SOMETHING FOR CHRIST'S SAKE!!!!!'-touch. Some songs are angry so to say, yes. But there is always this underlying feel of melancholy and depression to it. It's ok for me, though I had to get used to it first. Still, BoySetsFire have not lost anything of their political engagement in their songs, as left as they have always been.
Iit's a very interesting record. "Walk astray" welcomes you with a mellow and friendly acoustic intro, while Nathan Gray asks "Where were you the day they stole our innoscence?". After about ona and a half minute the song builds up to the known BSF angryness. What you will notice very soon is that the songs almost never go out alone on this record. Almost all songs fade over into each other. Which gives the album the feeling of a high pace when you listen to it as a whole, and let's the 50 minutes playtime seem much shorter than they are. You decide if that is a good thing or bad for you. Me is undecided so far. :)
All is well supported by the excellent production, though it seems a bit 'overproduced' here and there. The instruments are all mixed very well. But the screams seem a bit hollow and lack substance. As background that's not that bad, but sometimes the main vocal line screamed could have been a bit fuller. On songs like "So long... and thanks for the crutches" it's clearly wanted that way, but it's not good for other songs.
Let's have a more closer look at the really unusal aspects of this album, as far as it goes for BSF: "So long... and thanks for the crutches" is a song that goes straight forward. One of the songs on the record that still show the Hardcore roots of the band. You get to the chorus, and you get.... trumpets! It's a complete turn around from the verse, good contrast. A stark contrast to the complete album is "Deja Coup". There is only one word to describe it: Ska. The typical Ska-rythm, the trumpet filled chorus... This is something I have so far never heard before from this band. And though it was a turn off for me when I first listened to it, it is now one of the strongest aspects of the album.
A little easter egg waits at the end of the final song, "A Far Cry". After the song you hear a man chanting and stating a prayer over a simple guitar line. After he says his "Amen", you get to listen to BoySetsFire quoting themselfs. Anybody remember "Still waiting for the Punchline" from 'After the Eulogy'? Think of the song, and now imagine most of the guitar parts replaced by a piano. Towards the end it goes over again into guitar, which all in all gives the song a really great new twist. Clearly a highlight at the end of the record.
Ok, let's sum it up: With "The Misery Index" you get a 100% BoySetsFire record, though it might not be completely what you expect after "tomorrow come today". It might be that you do not like it at first if you're a big fan of the older material, with a bit of patience you are in for an interesting piece of work from an interesting band. Hard rocking songs are next to emotional statements about the world, all flavoured with new aspect for their sound. The 'restlesness' of the record could have been different though for my taste sometimes, and the mixing of the screamed vocals could be better as well here and there.
This one is on the same level as "tomorrow come today", both excellent on their own way. Hence, I will give this a 4/5 :thumb:
Suggestions for songs to check out: The Misery Index, Deja Coup, Empire, Falling Out Theme
eh i have mixed feelings with this album still. i just probably havent gotten use to it. to me its not the same as tomorrow comes today, which is the only thing i disagree on. after ive had enough listens ill rate this album.
Nice review, as usual. A good album by a band who aren't nearly as big as they should be.
If an album like this, rife with so much political and socio-cultural opinion and commentary, had been done by the likes of The Used (for example), then I think I'd listen to it and wince at the insincerity of it. BSF, on the other hand, manage to make it sound like they believe every second of what they're playing, something which is too rare these days. What they occassionally lack in elegance, they make up for with passion and conviction.
Oh, and Requiem is a sweeeeeeet song.
I think we both misunderstood what we we're trying to say.I meant it as that I'm not sure if Misery Index can compare as TCT as good as an album as TCT was. But I well know both are completely different and comparing is almost impossible.
Oh and question if you don't mind elaborating, BSF is still shown as signed with Equal Visions as far as i have read. SO what ended up happening and when did they sign to this new label? This Message Edited On 03.15.06
Regarding the label thing: What I could piece together from various sites around the net was that BSF did split with Equal Vision as their 'home label' so to say. Meaning EV would no longer produce albums together with the band etc. Because of differences, many sources stated that EV wanted to influence the songwriting, how the album should sound and stuff like that. Their new 'home' is Burning Heart, that produced the album and left the band with the freedom they wanted. Equal Vision is just the distributor of the material for North America.
This is, like I said, what I could gather after a trip to the Google Cave.
Ah ok, so EV is just distributing and receiving some profit from that. Heh what a shame, though i find it hard to believe that EV wold do such a thing. I haven't really heard influences in their other bands to have certain sounds.
Note for everyone that wanted to know what went down with the previous label, I stumbled across an interview with Nathan Gray, and he said this when asked about the time since "tomorrow come today":
Gray: We were with Wind-Up Records where we did one album and it flopped. After that they were very concerned about us writing a hit single because other than radio, they weren’t really sure what to do with us. We’re not really a band that writes for the radio. So they were asking us if we could use a co-writer and they were holding us back from touring and all this shit. Finally we were like “look, we’re not going to write your hit single. You’re miserable, we’re miserable, why are we doing this?” To their credit, they let us go when we were like a million dollars in debt to them. They let us have all our songs so we went and signed with Equal Vision in North America Vision and then licensed out with Burning Heart to the rest of the world. We just started re-doing the songs. The title alone The Misery Index: Notes from the Plague Years is an overview of the stuff that we went through, not only through the music industry but also politically, emotionally and personally. The album is that frustration and that anger that we’re trying to get out to heal ourselves.