Released Sept. 17th on Rory Records/Equal Vision Records
In 2005 Saves the Day embarked on an ambitious project to make a conceptual trilogy of albums following an emotional arc: Part 1 would express discontent, part 2 reflection and remorse, and part 3 an eventual acceptance. The first two volumes arrived in timely fashion in the form of 2006’s Sound the Alarm and 2007’s Under the Boards, but lineup and label changes caused significant delays in recording the third chapter. By the time Daybreak finally arrived in 2011 only bandleader Chris Conley remained from the Saves the Day that had begun the project, and the band had left their longtime home at Vagrant Records. With a dedicated new lineup, no label, and no thematic concept to stick to, Saves the Day could go any direction they wanted.
What they did was turn to their fans, raising money to record their new album through the crowdfunding service Pledgemusic. Fulfilling the various incentives involved jamming with fans, recording personalized songs, and playing private house shows, all of which connected them with their audience on a very direct level. For the release of Saves the Day they signed with Rory Records, owned by Conley’s friend Max Bemis of Say Anything. The label is an imprint of Equal Vision Records, who released STD’s first two albums, indicating something of a reintroduction and return to roots.
The self-titling of the new album is very deliberate, indicating that it arrives free of the thematic weight of the three preceding records. Saves the Day is a bouncy, upbeat album loaded with sweet, melodic emo-pop that hearkens back to the band’s turn-of-the-millennium breakthrough. At 11 tracks and 33 minutes, it feels compact and brisk. There are no 11-minute multi-part suites as on Daybreak‘s title track; these songs are tight and often breezey. Opening numbers “Remember” and “In the In Between” are full of hooks, recalling the vibe of 1999’s Through Being Cool. On the back half, the slowed, reflective “Supernova” has an antecedent in “Freakish” from 2001’s Stay What You Are, while “Verona” recalls the darker vibes of Under the Boards, but neither strays too far from the bubbly effervescence that dominates the album.
Freed of the trilogy template, Conley is writing about various topics, some of them familiar to fans of late-90s emo. A sense of nostalgic sentimentality runs through standout tracks “Remember” and “Ring Pop”, while “Beyond All of Time” and “Lucky Number” are professions of undying love. Elsewhere he tackles more difficult subjects, like the abusive relationship described in “Ain’t No Kind of Love” (“She shakes her head, something she said / Sets off his raving mad demands / She wants to help, but his push comes to shove”) or the violent racism condemned in “Xenophobic Blind Left Hook” (“It might make some people wonder / What is the point of it all / Fly off the handle and light out / Lash out to even the score”). Though these are heavy topics, he approaches them directly and concisely rather than mining them for inner anguish and turmoil as he might have on the previous three albums.
Saves the Day is a refreshing reintroduction to the band, and a solid bunch of tunes. If the supporting tours are any indication (I caught them here in San Diego on my birthday), the audience is fully on board with this direction and the group’s connection to their fans hasn’t been stronger in years. This album should definitely be heard by any past or present Saves the Day fan.