Come Close is a curious package comprised of a live DVD with extras and a 30-minute CD containing five live tracks and three unreleased alternate versions of album and EP cuts. Following up a monster hit album and world tour a full two years later without the benefit of new studio material seems strange. It's not like it hasn't been done (how many different versions of their debut album and subsequent live records did Los Lonely Boys do in the wake of the smash success of Heaven?), but this band's fans would seem to deserve better. Those who were first exposed to Saosin with their 2005 recording -- and who haven't gone back as far as their killer Translating the Name EP in 2003 -- might (justifiably) feel confused and perhaps even irritated.
That said, what is on offer here is high quality; it's bursting with crackling energy, tight, off-the-rails playing, and the kind of musically sophisticated, emotionally compelling honesty that Saosin won their mighty fan base with in the first place. The live cuts are "It's Far Better to Learn," "It's So Simple," "Voices," "You're Not Alone," and "I Never Wanted To," all of which come from their debut album. The "bonus" cuts are alternate "piano" versions" of "3rd Measurement in C," and "You're Not Alone," and an acoustic reading of "Mookie's Last Christmas." The live tracks smoke, and go by far too quickly. The studio tracks are interesting, compelling even for their simplicity; they show a different dynamic and texture to the band's guitars-on-stun sound.
The DVD is the actual focus of this package, however. An entire concert is filmed and presented in crystal-clear if bludgeoning sound. Most of the debut full-length appears, two tracks off the self-titled EP, and four of the five cuts on Translating the Name. In other worlds, this is virtually the band's entire set as it existed on the album tour. It looks great, has enough pure showmanship to keep the viewer interested, and offers an authentic portrait of a seasoned live band who understand how to work a crowd. It's a love affair with the audience from front to back -- albeit a twisted one. The extras on the DVD include the music videos for "Voices" and "You're Not Alone," with extra live videos of both songs. Huh? Yes: separate live performance videos for both tunes even though they appear in the concert footage. And ultimately, this is what feels cynical, or desperate; it's difficult to tell which. No one can deny this band's talent, or that they can write fine songs. But wouldn't it have been wiser to get a new studio offering out before this? From the package and the way it's being marketed it feels more like Capitol really wanted new product in the stores rather than wait for the band to deliver another album. This happens more and more in the 21st century, and it's not a good thing at all. It keeps acts from developing aesthetically, and often frustrates fans in the process. For what it is, this is all good and well, but one can't help the feeling that they've been sold a bill of goods, even if it's a pleasant one. [Come Close was released with two different packaging options.]