Under the Boards

Saves the Day

(LP - Vagrant #75054)

Review by Corey Apar

Under the Boards is the second in a trilogy of albums that Saves the Day has billed to be a "story of self-discovery." 2006's Sound the Alarm was the aggressive and urgent pop-punk most fans expected and ultimately demanded, a record of discontent and unchecked energy. Under the Boards -- with a solemn night sky adorning the album's cover -- appears as the counterpart to that restlessness, a record that is quieter, more pensive, and more sorrowful. This is an album of reflection, so much so that even the faster tracks revolve around little more than tight rhythms, remorse, and emotions of the bitter kind. The opening title track sounds eerily like Chris Conley channeling Muse (much like Matchbook Romance did on their 2006 album Voices), where a lonely guitar barely supports his despondent croon before the band comes in full force behind him, growing dramatically to round out the dark mood surrounding his naked voice. Saves the Day manage to balance out all of their emotional musings with strong pop songs, however, ensuring that Under the Boards doesn't sink beneath the weight of all the band's soul searching. So for every woefully solemn "Stay" and "Turning Over in My Tomb," there is the bouncy "Radio," the even brighter "Can't Stay the Same," and the "That Thing You Do" vibe of "Bye Bye Baby." Yet as was stated before, even the songs with a slight skip in their step deal overwhelmingly with loneliness and pain, which keeps the record always well within rainy day terrain. It makes for a cohesive album, and one where Conley's voice is so strong and clear throughout, the production so clean and uncluttered, that it all washes down smooth and effortlessly. It may take multiple spins for a few songs to really find their footing with fans, but those people will surely be rewarded handsomely in the end, most likely finding this album the one they reach for immediately on those nights where nothing sounds better than just sitting in a room alone, dwelling on anything and everything -- and accompanied by a great soundtrack.

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