Man, the guys at Buddyhead really hate these guys; I was just reading a review of Be a Criminal on their site, and then, like a half an hour later, I find the guy who runs Buddyhead chirping trash about Garrison in Alternative Press. Oh well, what are you going to do? I guess I find Buddyhead's disgust for these guys funny because I actually enjoy Garrison!
The Model finds Garrison inching closer to something less angular and more pop-influenced than the things they have done in the past. Watching Garrison's career is kind of like watching the Get Up Kids' career -- you could see that things were getting weaker with releases like the Red Letter Day EP and Something to Write Home About, but no one could have expected the massive turd that was On a Wire. Talk about jumping the shark.
Anyway, I can see that Garrison is a band that is totally wussing out, as well. Don't get me wrong, the songs on The Model still rock pretty well, but there's something missing. The drums don't hit as hard as they used to, the guitars have simmered down a bit, and the lead vocalist is singing more and freaking out less. This record is actually quite comparable to GUK's Something in both production and sound. I can see fans of GUK enjoying this EP tremendously.
I would have to say that my favorite track on the CD would have to be the opener, "Let's Fight" is the most like their older stuff than anything else on The Model. The lyrics talk about "beating each other down", and "calloused backs that work harder". I can't decide if the lyrics are about a relationship, the trials and tribulations of being a hard working band, always on the road, or if it's just about someone the singer wants to fight. Nevertheless, since I teach English to middle school kids, I can tell you that the lyricist for Garrison writes so deeply in metaphor that, for the most part, I have no idea what he's talking about!
I liked "We Watch the World Come Down". The chorus to this one is absolutely intoxicating. It features a really powerful and triumphant chord progression, with really big and pounding drums. I think what makes it so inviting is the weird structure of the vocals versus the guitars; they both seem to decline in tone, in a way that seems to make the listener feel as if it is he/she who is "coming down". Awesome!
The rest of the album is pretty samey emo stuff, with lots of warm sounding, ringy bass, as if Bob Weston or Steve Albini had recorded it. The choruses seem to get stickier and sweeter as the songs progress, ending with the truly prototypical emo track, "The Sound". If someone asked me to summarize the sound of a major label destined "emo" band, I would choose "The Sound" as the perfect example. It features "ooohs" in its chorus, has big drums and second rate Drive Like Jehu guitar lines, an a cappella vocal part, and otherwise boring emo trickery. This is the song that let me know what Garrison appears to be up to; they're ready to take their stab at being the next Jimmy Eat World, and that's probably why this is only an EP. They might be saving the rest for a major label debut. I'd be willing to bet one of my kidneys that these guys will be on a major within a year. To be honest, though, who cares? This is a pretty solid little EP and is a fun listen.