PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Saves the Day: Sound the Alarm

Saves the Day have given their fans nothing exciting, innovative, or new.

Saves the Day

Sound the Alarm

Label: Vagrant
US Release Date: 2006-04-11
UK Release Date: 2006-04-10
iTunes affiliate

For their fifth album, Sound the Alarm, Saves the Day return to indie-punk imprint Vagrant, which conveys both cred (the label's home to the Futureheads, Eels) and not much (it's also home to Dashboard Confessional). But then, Vagrant's a better home for an indie emo band than Dreamworks, by any measure. In fact, Vagrant label-mates Alkaline Trio may provide the ideal career trajectory for the no longer flash-in-the-pan New Jersey band -– to achieve some measure of wider recognition without sacrificing a characteristic sound. In Alkaline Trio's case it's this dark, alcoholic-industrial violence-wrapped melodic punk. For Saves the Day, it could have been intelligent, emotional emo-punk. Instead, we're given thirteen songs that, for all their bluster, hardly make any impression at all.

The album opens faultlessly enough. "Head for the Hills" is a melodic but heavy anthem, full of self-destruction. Trouble is, compared to Alkaline Trio's drunken violence, Saves the Day come off as cartoonish. Compare: "Cut off my legs when you tell me to walk / Slit my own throat when you say to talk" with "I took a hammer and two nails to my eardrums long ago . . . Mr. Chainsaw came and took my legs a long, long time ago". Whereas "Mr. Chainsaw" avoids cliché and then makes the explanation (in the last lines of the song) exquisitely clear, Saves the Day never rise above self-pity. And growing pains we can all relate to; self-pity much less so.

Unfortunately, the aggressive guitars and Chris Conley's weedy-thin voice soon wear, er, thin. And influences are almost as prosaic as the lyrical clichés: the Stooges, the Pixies. Among more contemporary bands in the same genre, Lawrence Arms are harder; Matchbook Romance has the same disgusted, soaring voice, a more Muse-like anthemic quality. By the time we reach the title track, you find yourself wishing that the band would show some shred of originality –- at least throw in a measure with only three beats or something to throw us off.

In general, the more aggressive songs work best. "Dying Day" is like a classic Pennywise tune: melodic, without the over-produced sheen of latter-day Blink 182 or Green Day. But for every "Dying Day", there's a "34", a pedestrian emo tune with heavy guitar accents on each word in the chorus -– the kind of amateur single that doesn't quite make it on MTV2.

And then there's the . . . don't get me started on the obligatory softer ballad. Oh, all right then. Wait, lyrics –- "There must be something wrong with me"? Please. The song's called "I Don't Know Why", but here's the real question: why does self-indulgent self-molestation excite sympathy among self-absorbed teenagers? I don't know why. Really, this kind of trash is the modern equivalent of Roger Whittaker (the British singer, songwriter, guitarist, and whistler, his website says). "I Don't Know Why" is just that -– easy listening for the Hot Topic set.

Saves the Day have given their fans nothing exciting, innovative, or new. Bridging the commercial melodic punk of In Reverie and the harder sound of their early records, the band has found the statement of bile without the bite. The final song on the record, "Hell Is Here", opens with a promise of something different: a '70s hard rock guitar jangle –- you know, the kind of intro Wolfmother's working hard to perfect. But it just settles right back to the album's all too familiar sound. And Saves the Day's final thought -– that "everyone you know will someday die" –- is so prosaic you almost feel pity for them. Almost . . . if the music only was not so ordinary.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.