Saosin

In Search of Solid Ground

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In Search of Solid Ground Review

by Thom Jurek

Fans waited three long years for California rock quintet Saosin to follow up their smash self-titled debut. There was the bizarre gap-filler Come Close in 2008, a collection of live tracks from their debut and acoustic demos of some of the same songs, which was either a record company prod or an exercise in greed. At 13 tracks clocking in at nearly an hour in length, In Search of Solid Ground is the true successor to Saosin. The band has learned how to be comfortable in a recording studio -- there are no less than four producers here; five tracks each were helmed by Chris Sorenson and Butch Walker, two by John Feldmann, and one by the team of Lucas Banker and Logan Mader. Musically, Saosin are still a post-hardcore band, though they've expanded their rock palette considerably. The songs structures have shifted, changed shape, and are crafted more carefully. "On My Own" contains virtually everything that established their alt-emo trademark, but while the opener, "I Keep My Secrets Safe," contains the speed the band is known for, it's so sonically spacious and melodically stretched that it walks a line between early October-era U2 and Coheed and Cambria with screamo thrown into the mix for measure. It rocks, though. Another standout is "The Alarming Sound of a Still Small Voice." Cove Reber reaches deep inside himself for a searing, emotionally taut vocal, as the guitars of Justin Shekoski and Beau Burchell try to bury him. The album closer, "Fireflies," might stun fans who haven't heard the band play this live. Over eight minutes in length, it's a slow, moody, atmospheric love song with plenty of ambient sounds falling in from the margins; it's led by the hypnotic bassline of Sorenson and a syncopated drum kit manned by Alex Rodriguez. This track has less than nothing to do with post-hardcore; it's a straight-up, free-flowing rock power ballad that begins to soar near the middle and moves to near silence before rebuilding itself and ending in near complete metallic chaos. In Search of Solid Ground, as the title suggests, is exactly what this album strives for, but it does so ambitiously, with little regard for Saosin's own history as a band. If anything, this is the sound of a band trying to establish a new identity for itself because it's outgrown the old one. It's chock-full of immediacy, energy, honesty, and naked emotion, with enough sheer rock & roll power to carry over the old fans, and win loads of new ones.

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