The Commercials' third album, their first for a new label, is a curious hybrid: side one is made up of five re-recorded songs taken from the multitude of out of print compilations and split E.P.s that the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania quartet released before their first two full-length albums. Rescuing the tracks is an excellent idea, and their chops and recording budgets have both expanded to the point that songs like the chiming, almost power-poppy "Six Weeks of April" sound worlds better than their more skeletal early versions. The second half of the album is a concept album of sorts, five interconnected songs charting the beginning and end of a relationship, and they're a remarkable leap from all of the Commercials' previous work. Incorporating new-wavy keyboards, more complex vocals, greater dynamic shifts, and a lyrical viewpoint that's emotional without necessarily being "emo," these songs -- particularly the outstanding "Vince is Dead" -- suggest that the Commercials are ready to move to a new level, making It's Not What You Say, It's How You Say It a transitional record that both closes one chapter of the band's history, and suggests an exciting new direction.
AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason