In 2003, power pop outfit Saves the Day was in their prime. Having just finished tour and having released two solid albums, Through Being Cool and the follow up masterpiece, Stay What You Are, the world impatiently waited for the next album. An album anticipated to launch Saves the Day into the power pop hall of fame forever.
Listening to Stay What You Are, a person can noticeably tell that the band had come a long way from their punk days of previous album Can’t Slow Down. They had finally developed a unique sound that was thoroughly catchy, while still maintaining the lyrical depth of Can’t Slow Down, and the incredibly intricate guitar work of Through Being Cool. Now signed to major label, Dreamworks, a great sense of excitement could be felt throughout the Saves the Day fan base as their loyal fans patiently waited the release of the upcoming album, In Reverie. An album that had tremendous hype and expectations placed on it unfairly, even before recording took place.
In Reverie is the most controversial album released by the New Jersey quartet. Almost immediately, fans noticed that vocalist Chris Conley changed his vocal style. No longer as cutting and whiny as before, his voice remains soothing and constant through out the album. The fact that Conley’s voice does not vary as much, and the raw emotion is now gone, leaves many fans desiring for more. Almost immediately, message boards and forums were bombarded with questions such as, “What happened to the vocals??” and, “Why is Chris singing like this???” A question any die hard Saves the Day fan would want to ask. Chris’s vocals in “In Reverie” almost sound forced the first time a person listens to the album. Accusations that Saves the Day was selling out became common and in all honesty, the first time I picked up this album, I felt shocked and betrayed.
However, two years later when I decided to give the album a second chance, I realized that this indeed was the masterpiece Chris intended it to be. A person just has to let go of the expectations they have of what Saves the Day is “supposed” to sound like when they finally do decide to listen. After all, every album Saves the Day has released was different from the last. That’s what’s so great about this band; the music constantly changes and grows with its fans.
The album kicks off with the radio single, Anywhere with You, an extremely catchy song that makes you want to clap your hands and dance to the lightly distorted guitars. And as you listen to the immense wall of sound created by the feathery trebled guitars, you realize the musical aspects of this album are tremendous. Numerous time signature changes and time signatures rarely seen in pop punk such as 6/8 are being utilized. In the second track, What Went Wrong, the band goes into 6/8 giving the song a 1950’s doo wop sound. The intricate guitar work in the background compliments the vocals well and the light driving beat of the drums will have you bobbing your head during the chorus.
Saves the Day can be seen experimenting on this album also. In “Rise,” a jazz based influence can be strongly felt. The band weaves in and out of 4/4 and a measure of 3/4 throughout the song. Quite a difficult accomplishment but it pays off tremendously by adding a depth to Conley’s vocals and a more intricate feel to the album as a whole.
The raw emotion of Through Being Cool is still felt in “Tomorrow’s Too Late” and “Where Are You?” the song that explodes before slowing down and ending on a light note. One of the catchier songs on the album include, “Monkey” which has some of the most interesting lyrics on the album and, “In Waking Life,” a soothing slow song that somehow leaves you desiring more. The only ballad on the album “She,” is stripped to guitars and vocals and fits in nicely with Chris’s soothing album.
Chris’s vocal aspects no longer rely on his superb lyrics. In fact it seems as though he shied away from his usually amazing lyrical stories and leans towards the use of rather ambiguous phrases and extremely catchy hooks to make this new album successful. Aside from the hit “In Reverie,” “Driving in the Dark,” has by far one of the catchiest chorus’s on the album. The song Monkey can be seen as a political and the song “She” is the closest a person can get to Chris’s “Stay What You Are” songwriting.
Overall, the many different time signatures and the fact that Saves the Day is not afraid to weave in and out of them throughout each song adds so much more complexity to the album. The intricate guitar parts and the syncopated rhythms spices up and drives the album forward, creating a feeling where you can’t help but wonder what comes next.
When you first listen to the album, you will either love the new vocals or truly despise the change. If you hate this album does that make you less of a fan? No, it doesn’t. However, if you do give the album a chance, you might just realize why Chris was so proud and excited about the release of “In Reverie.” Perhaps, when Chris was creating this album he was thinking three years ahead of his fans. With the release of Sound the Alarm, if you play all their albums together on shuffle, you will hear songs from the Can’t Slow Down punk end of the spectrum to the slow pop ballads of In Reverie. It’s a masterpiece in its own right.
Anywhere with You
Driving in the Dark