Review Summary: Saves the Day's best release, and a huge milestone in the history of Pop Punk.
I remember the first time I listened to this album vividly. I was in my bedroom scoping through internet for new music to listen to. The clatter of rain dripped down my window graciously, and I had no luck finding good material to get into. I was a sucker for Pop Punk at the time, especially Taking Back Sunday’s “Tell All your Friends”. After about an hour of searching for something, I came across the group “Saves the Day”. At first, I was skeptical about the band due to the silly name and the cliché cover used for their most popular album, “Stay What You Are”. After reading a bit more about it, and the critical acclaim the album garnered, I decided to give it a listen. I did not enter the album positive; I went in with the sole purpose of ripping the album to shreds. When the last words of “Fireflies” were sung, the growing sunlight poured through my window and I was in awe of how wrong I was.
“Stay What You Are” does little to improvise a unique sound that differed from most Pop-Punk groups at the time. The quirky guitar work, catchy drums, and clean vocals are all there. However, Saves the Day rather improvises on the generic rhythms with impressive instrumental works and irresistible lyrics to sing along too. Right when the first words of “At Your Funeral” were spoken, I was hooked on the catchy lyrics as well as Chris Connelly’s fantastic vocal performance. Some people use the word “feminine” to describe his voice. I have never found his voice feminine, yet I find it to be a bit whiny at some points of the album. This isn’t much of a negative, since the positives of his voice and lyrics highly outweigh the negative. His voice stays strong throughout the album, as his voice never lets up until the very end.
The guitar work on the album is to be noted also. Though the guitar doesn’t stray too far from its crunchy chords and three finger riffs, it provides an excellent way to be enticed to the song, as it doesn’t attempt to outdo the rest of the performances. The best example of the guitar work found on the album is showcased on “This is Not an Exit”, I find myself humming the guitar on this song frequently. Even though it may seem simplistic at first, you must realize that it isn’t trying to outshine the other instruments on the track. The bass can be heard frequently, but it doesn’t do much to improvise the sound with the other instruments. I found myself enjoying the guitar and drums a lot more, with the bass proving to be a shadow in the back of the other two instruments.
The drums on the album are well placed and executed perfectly; they keep the rhythm of the album at a balance, as well as improvising on the mood of each song. The drums provide different tracks for each song, and don’t sound recycled like some other Pop Punk releases at the time. The cymbal crashes on “Nightingale” are by far my favorite example of excellent drumming on the entire album. They do their job, improving the songs atmosphere and overall sound for a good cause. The drums on the album are not what you would here from your typical Pop Punk album. They provide enjoyable tracks to keep up with as each song flows off of each other.
The standouts of the album are found in the final few songs on the album. “Nightingale” is an excellent slower song that builds tension with its hard hitting drums and Connelly’s beautiful lyrics. I always get a chill when Connelly sings gracefully “The Nightingales are singing out!” The chorus is one of the catchiest on the album, and the bass line provides an interesting groove to get into. The next standout would be the famous “This is Not an Exit”. This is by far the most memorable song on the entire album. After my first listen, I could recall the chorus and opening guitar strums by memory. Chris Connelly out does himself here, with intricate lyrics and a beautiful ring to each melody he produces with his voice. The finale of the song takes the song to a whole new level though. The lyrics are just so mesmerizing, I find myself smiling every time the song reaches its climax. The honest lyrics spill out of Connelly’s mouth so positively and clean that there’s no reason to not feel happy. I still listen to this song every time I’m down in the gutter, it’s such a wonderful song, and I recommend it for anyone who is into Pop Punk. The final song, “Fireflies” kicks off hard, with some of the fastest work on the album. The lyrics are honest and subtle, yet highly affective. There seems to be less interest in providing a catchy chorus, but with a bigger intention of closing off the album with a grand finale. The final minute and a half of the song is some of the best on the entire album, as all the instruments collide together to form a memorable harmony as Connelly signs it off.
This is by far one of the most enjoyable Pop Punk albums I have ever listened to. The lyrics are memorable and catchy, the instruments are well crafted and each serves a purpose, and the energy put into the album is off the scale. Chris Connelly’s vocal performance is top notch, giving each song color and emotion with each note his voice provides. This is Saves the Day’s greatest achievement, and it’s a shame they could not capitalize on such a great start. This album has become a staple in the industry, and it serves its purpose for being one of the best Pop Punk albums ever made.