After the absence of John Nolan and Shaun Copper to "emo" superstars Taking Back Sunday, many were wondering if the scene would ever see their faces again. Luckily, in 2004, the ex-TBS members hooked up with drummer Will Noon and John's sister and pianist Michelle Nolan, and formed the indie band Straylight Run
After a 6 song demo was put on the internet, fans of the previously mentioned band were getting more and more hyped for the debut CD from the foursome. Victory Records agreed to carry it out, and in October, Straylight Run released this beast of an album
Perfect Ending – 8/10
An odd introduction to a CD, it’s all piano-based with no percussion, bass or guitar. John’s voice over Michelle’s beautiful piano melodies fit like a puzzle, and sucks you in for nearly 5 minutes. I do think this track would be better placed near the back of the album because of its sad feeling, but nevertheless this is one hell of a song, and really sets you up for the album.
The Tension And The Terror – 7/10
Here’s where it starts getting more upbeat. The drumming is relatively fast over the top of piano chords and a running bassline. John’s well-crafted lyrics go so well with the smooth music of the song, and the bridge really builds up momentum for the final round of the chorus with the guitar part.
Existentialism On Prom Night – 9/10
The single off the album, and with good reason. The entire song is a build-up, beginning with just piano, then drums and bass come in, and finally, a guitar riff is added to this to create one of the most beautiful songs of 2004 in my opinion. John kind of screams “Sing like you think no one’s listening/You would kill for this!” in the middle, with Michelle backing him up. It’s so well produced and written.
Another Word For Desperate – 7/10
A much more slowed down track here, the opening riff is slightly depressing and has an eerie sad feel to it as if someone just died. The verses are very long, and kinda drag on, although the lyrics are well written. The chorus is where it picks up again, with John and Michelle singing side by side again. Then the bridge again picks up in tempo and volume, and we break away from the “down” feeling of the song for a few seconds.
Mistakes We Knew We Were Making – 6/10
The demo of this song was amazing; one of the best of the 6, but this seems to be a little over-produced. The effects in the opening music don’t fit very well for me. John’s singing seems to pick up a few points, but really this isn’t one of the better songs on the album.
Dignity And Money – 8/10
This is John’s chance to get every bad experience with Taking Back Sunday off his chest. Previously called “The Machine Still Goes On”, this song feels very upbeat again and the music and vocals fit perfectly again. The only gripe I have is the effects used on John’s voice sometimes. It’s horrible, and puts me off the song a little.
Your Name Here (Sunrise Highway) – 9/10
A much calmer track after the last angst-ridden song, this song is about Jesse Lacey of Brand New, John’s best friend. The music is very slow but well polished and put together. John’s vocals are great as usual, and in the chorus he sings lyrics with directions to his old apartment! This song has been compared as regret to TBS’s “There’s No ‘I’ In Team”, but nevertheless this is one of the high points of the record.
Tool Sheds And Hot Tubs – 9/10
Woah, this is different! Possibly the fastest song on the album, it uses a very dance feel to it! And Michelle sings lead in this song. She also wrote the lyrics, apparently about Adam Lazarra of TBS (Who she had a relationship with, but he cheated on her). The song has a real pop feel to it; the piano melodies are furious, they use a drum machine I believe and the guitar has an “over-produced” feel to it. One of my favourites purely because it’s different and still amazing.
It’s For The Best – 7/10
Here we have another typical Straylight song, filled with average drum beats, smooth basslines and well-crafted piano melodies. The vocals drag on a little in some places, like at the end of some chorus’, but overall the song is good. The way it’s sung in places is great, as it changes a lot.
Now It’s Done – 8/10
This is Michelle’s second and last song, and in effect it’s her own ballad. Using a dark tone in both the chords used and her voice, the track has an eerie feel overcasting it. Michelle’s voice goes so well with the overall tone of the song, and gets a little cheerier in the chorus, which still has that dark feel to it. It’s slower than her last song, and is her best in my opinion
Sympathy For The Martyr – 9/10
A perfect way to finish off the album, we are treated to 5 minutes of pure lyrical genius. The bridge lyrics “A laundry list of problems doesn't make you interesting/and never getting help doesn't make you brave” are beautiful. The music in this song is standard throughout the record, but the vocals just make this song for me. It ends with about 2 minutes of “Ba ba ba da da da da”, which drags out a little but slowly the instruments disappear and it just sounds so harmonic.
This CD was one of the most anticipated of 2004 in the indie/pop punk scene, with many people holding their breath after the 6 song demo. I personally think this album delivered, although some will say it was over-produced and the songs from the demos were ruined.
The music in this album just sounds spectacular. I especially love Michelle’s piano melodies, they are both amazingly played and well written as well, and they fit so perfectly with John’s slowed-down guitar parts, Will’s simple drum beats and Shaun’s funky basslines
I love this CD, and I can’t believe it hasn’t been reviewed yet. But here’s mine.
- Existentialism On Prom Night
- Your Name Here (Sunrise Highway)
- Tool Sheds And Hot Tubs
- Sympathy For The Martyr