Review Summary: Sunny Day Real Estate's conclusion rises to the occasion, as it delivers a satisfying ending for a fantastic band.
Sunny Day Real Estate is the band that introduced me to the Emo Genre. I was fifteen, indulging myself into the fantasies of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin while fairly holding a grip on modern day music like Arcade Fire. In fact, Emo music meant nothing to me. It came across to me as whiney and highly pretentious music that only mentally depressed people could enjoy. I was immensely ignorant towards the genre in my youth, which may be the reason I enjoy it so much today. The vocals I hear now from bands like American Football and Mineral do not come across as whiney to me anymore, but rather beautiful. This may be the reason I love Sunny Day Real Estate so much. Jeremy Enigk is an outstanding vocalist; his voice resonates beautifully over every track on Diary as well as almost every other SDRE album to this day. However, this may be one of the biggest flaws on "The Rising Tide", as Jeremy’s vocal performance changes drastically.
"The Rising Tide" is the fourth and final album released by the Seattle band, Sunny Day Real Estate. The album retains 3 out of the 4 original members of the band, with Nate Mendel residing with the Foo Fighters. As soon as the album begins, it hits hard with “Killed by an Angel”. Williams’s drums thunder while a frenzied guitar hums above it. A decent start, but rather confusing opening to what an Emo band is supposed to showcase. With Diary, the album started with its hardest hitting track as well. Seven was used as a way to showcase the band’s overall skill at each position in the band. The guitar was impressive, the drums were phenomenal, the bass kept the tempo perfectly, and Jeremy’s voice pulls you into the experience. I can’t say the same with this opener. The vocals are rather boring, as Jeremy sounds rather electronic. My music teacher once admitted that Jeremy sounded like a rip-off of the early years of Rush on this album, I couldn’t agree more. His voice doesn’t produce the same feeling it did with Diary, as it comes off as generic and dull. The drums are still as great as they were years ago, yet I feel the bass is sidestepped for a louder guitar. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it gets a little dry without a loud engaging bass that was found on the excellent Diary.
After a bland start, “Rain Song” comes along to shatter my expectations for the rest of the album. It is a beautiful song which may contain one of my favorite acoustic tracks on any album to this day. The bass can be heard much more clearly on this song as Jeremy sings with much more energy and excitement. A piano enters towards the end of the song and you’re left to wonder about the true essence of the song. The song is a ballad, but Jeremy’s lyric choices and vocal performance excel entirely on this track, something I didn’t feel for the first two tracks. This feeling doesn’t for a few songs, yet I found “Snibe” to be a pretty solid song in its own right. The anthem produced in the chorus is extremely catchy, and the drums boom with excitement with each cymbal crash. Even the robotic vocals in the middle with the piano were pretty entertaining.
The next few tracks I found rather boring. “The Ocean” brings the acoustic guitar back, but nothing new ensues that I found to be groundbreaking. I couldn’t help but like the song for sounding so upbeat though. The lyrics are rather soft and upbeat, which I found rather unusual for a band like SDRE. The rest of the album goes a little downhill from here. The next three songs may go down as my picks for the worst SDRE songs ever made. With the song “Television” being the cherry on top for being the worst song the band has ever recorded. Take away everything that made SDRE good, throw in an extremely annoying chorus, and horrible lyrics such as “She’s cool and she’s free like television!” Jeremy’s voice is painful to listen to, and the drums are as bland as ever. Not even the solid piano could save this from breaking even. At the end of this song, I had no hope for the rest of the album.
I found myself to be completely wrong though, with the final songs being my picks for the two best songs on the album. The title track has some of the best lyrics on the album, as well as one of the best instrumental harmonies in all of the bands discography. “Faces in Disguise” is something of its own. I always wondered why every song on this album couldn’t be like “Faces in Disguise”. My best guess was that the band brought their “A” game to the table with the few superb songs on the album, and then got lazier and lazier until they finished the album off with “Television”. “Faces in Disguise” is a must have, it’s very hard to explain the mood I get after each new journey I undertake when I listen to the song. Listen to it with care and caution, and get lost in a sea of clarity.
“The Rising Tide” is an album that most fans of SDRE chose to avoid due to the contrasting atmosphere the album provides from its predecessors. The album is not for everyone, but with songs like “Rain Song”, “The Ocean”, “The Rising Tide”, “Snibe”, and “Faces in Disguises”, it’s hard to overlook. Jeremy may not sound his best, and Nate’s absence may be missed at some parts of the album, I wouldn’t let it detract from what the album attempts to give the listener. A solid album, which serves as a satisfying finale to one of my favorite bands of all time.