After several lineup changes and pushed back released dates, Saves the Day have finally released their seventh studio album, Daybreak. According to lead singer and principal songwriter Chris Conley, the disc is the third part of a trilogy along with 2006’s Sound The Alarm and ’07’s Under the Boards. The first two legs were about discontent, reflection and remorse, respectively. Daybreak finishes off the Jersey emo rockers ambitious project with 11 songs about acceptance.
Choosing the name “Daybreak” for an album about acceptance may not be the most subtle of choices, but subtlety isn’t really the forte of emo musicians. Neither is acceptance for that matter; which is perhaps why the album comes across as unsatisfying. STD doesn’t need to pander to die-hard fans and rock the same adolescent angst for the rest of their career, but if they want to do something different, they haven’t quite perfected it yet.
Conley and company open the album with the eponymous track “Daylight”, an 11-minute journey with five movements — overreaching and pretentious, perhaps, but also the most effective offering on the album. The song begins with Conley’s heart, having sought drunken refuge in Spain, incredulously repeating “Somehow you love me” over a reverb line and acoustic guitar. Soon, caustic power chords cut in, and we are off to the races with the second movement. It’s as close to vintage Saves the Day as there is on the album as it features Conley’s wonderfully nasally vocals, whiney emo-tastic lyrics, and loud, distorted guitars. After some detours through relaxed grooves and acoustic funk, the track ends with the eponymous closing movement. At the conclusion of the emotional roller coaster, Conley concludes the song with “So take me in your arms knowing I’m the one.”
Much of the album seems far too content with sleekly produced, mid tempo numbers that sterilize one of the band’s strongest assets, Conley’s voice. Sure there are the same lovelorn lyrics and emotionalism, but nothing reaches the blistering melancholy of “Turning Over in My Tomb” from Under the Boards, or the visceral anger of “Head for the Hills” on Sound the Alarm.
Oh right, this album is supposed to be different. It’s supposed to be about acceptance. Right. Aside from the aforementioned title track, the other “acceptance” standout on the album is “Chameleon”. The song contains much of the same quantized bass, acoustic lines and overly produced guitar lines found elsewhere, but there is a different tone that resonates through the mix. Conley is bitching about the girl in the red dress as he does ad nauseaum, but his vocals strike a balance between carping and contentment concluding “We wanna make it work, we wanna get it right”. Maturity means growing up, but it doesn’t mean it is easy to get to the point, nor that you have to like getting there.
To be fair, part of the mess of the album may be from the delayed release and/or the entirely new lineup, save Conley. Or maybe Chris just needs to go back to his post-adolescent rage and write tunes about signing requiems at the funeral of the girlfriend he just murdered. Still, one thing is for sure, 15 years and seven albums in, Saves the Day doesn’t appear to be done making records.