Saturday, April 30, 2016

Saves the Day: Under the Boards [2007] — Album Review

Chris Conley: Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
    Vocal Era: Under the Boards
Dave Soloway: Lead Guitar
Manuel Carrero: Bass
Durijah Lang: Drums
Produced by Marc Hudson and Eric Stenman

1. Under the Boards – 3:16
2. Radio – 2:14
3. Can't Stay the Same – 2:49
4. Get Fucked Up – 3:04
5. When I'm Not There – 2:46
6. Lonely Nights – 3:06
7. Bye Bye Baby – 2:36
8. Stay – 3:25
9. Getaway – 2:46
10. Because You Are No Other – 1:59
11. Kaleidoscope – 3:18
12. Woe – 3:06
13. Turning Over in My Tomb – 3:27
Total Runtime: 37:50

If In Reverie alienated old fans and Sound the Alarm alienated the ones left after In Reverie, then Under the Boards probably alienated any new fans gained from In Reverie or Sound the Alarm. Under the Boards is a depressing record. It is a dark, melancholy look at life. As Conley says, StA was the anger and insanity, UtB is the loneliness and depression. Anyone who really liked where they were going with StA was sure to leave as soon as the three-album concept was announced 'cause it only got different from there.
Before the recording of UtB, new drummer Pete Parada left, after less than four years with the band; he was replaced by Carrero's Glassjaw bandmate Durijah Lang soon after. This is also Dave Soloway's final album with Saves the Day, but not his last with Conley (that being the Two Tongues supergroup's only record, Two Tongues, in 2009).
And isn't that just some badass artwork? I love extended shutter photography of night skies. It always comes out awesome.
On our opener, "Under the Boards", Soloway's guitar work is amazing as always. The lone guitar in the beginning with Conley's eerie vocals makes for a very aesthetic and tone-setting tune. Switching gears and reminiscent of earlier records such as Stay What You Are (man, I just keep losing points with old StD fans, don't I?), "Radio" showcases that Conley's still got the knack to write some killer choruses. Soloway's great guitar really helps carry the song.
I agree with Conley, "Can't Stay the Same" is probably the poppiest song Saves the Day has ever written (before 2013's Saves the Day, anyway). Not that that's a bad thing in any sense (take note Can't Slow Down-ers). This has the catchiest chorus on the entire record. The opening riff and everything are just perfect. Riding off "Can't Stay The Same", "Get Fucked Up" continues the poppy feel and the catchy choruses. The guitars sound great and Conley's voice doesn't sound like it's straining. "When I'm Not There" is alright. Nothing special.
"So many lonely nights I hoped you'd call/And that is all I can say in this song". I think that about sums up "Lonely Nights". And the piano is great. Saves the Day needs some more piano-based songs.
Next is "Bye Bye Baby"; lyrics are great, the guitars are great, and it's pretty poppy. Not bad; not bad at all. "Stay" is such an eerie tune. For the first time on an album, Soloway picks up the old acoustic and gives us another piece of art. Conley's lyrics are dark and grim, and this is where we officially switch to the second half of the album.
"Getaway" is exactly what it would sound like if Saves the Day wrote "Pain" instead of Jimmy Eat World. The "ka-chow"s are a little weird, but that's beside the point. And this is where I explain what I meant by the "second half" in the last paragraph. There are two sides to this album: the lighter side of the darkness (i.e. "Radio" and "Lonely Nights"), and being engulfed in darkness ("Kaleidoscope" through "Turning Over in My Tomb"). The lighter side includes the "I'm not alright, but I can deal with it" songs, but the second half is the "I can't deal with it anymore". Also, Lang's stellar drum prowess really shows itself on the second half, particularly in "Kaleidoscope".
"Because You Are No Other" is a short tune, though it's the poppiest tune on the second half. Also these lyrics are awesome: "I'm gonna tie you onto this post/You're gonna let go of all that you know/You'll never make it out alive and now you know".
"Kaleidoscope" was my favorite StD song for a while. The amazing sounding guitar, the masterful drumwork, the perfect lyrics; just awesome. Finally we get to this song. This was the first song Conley wrote after the In Reverie sessions and post-In Reverie depression writer's block. It's a really dark, melancholy song. It's the low point (emotionally) and the climax (again, emotionally) of the entire trilogy. The darkest hour before dawn (Daybreak). Finally, Under the Boards concludes with "Turning Over in My Tomb", which sounds like a rewritten version of "Under the Boards", perfectly wrapping up the entire album.
Under the Boards is a great album for fans of the emo genre who aren't into the more screamy things like Thrice or The Used but like some killer guitar riffs and drumlines, and a very good album from a stellar band.

Under the Boards: 8/10
Radio: 9/10
Can't Stay the Same: 10/10
Get Fucked Up: 9/10
When I'm Not There: 6/10
Lonely Nights: 7/10
Bye Bye Baby: 7/10
Stay: 7/10
Getaway: 7/10
Because You Are No Other: 8/10
Kaleidoscope: 9/10
Woe: 7/10
Turning Over in My Tomb: 8/10

Subtotal: 102/130
Bonus Points:
Guitar Intricacy: +2
Total: 104/130
Score: 8.0 Excellent

Genres: Emo, Pop-Punk

Last Review: Sound the Alarm by Saves the Day
Next Week's Review: No Devolución by Thursday
Next Saves the Day Review: Bug Sessions, Vol. 2