The long wait is over. California's Saosin issued their debut EP Translating the Name in 2003. They already had a well-developed fan base for their unique, even enigmatic brand of post-hardcore screamo. The band, having undergone some personnel changes -- most notably singer Anthony Green's departure in 2004 and the enlisting of Cove Reber as his replacement -- also underwent a sonic change on their self-titled 2005 EP. That primer was a guidebook to the band's new sound. Their Capitol debut, produced by Howard Benson, who also plays keyboards and does minimal programming, is a much slicker and far more imaginative outing than the band's underground fans may appreciate. That's not to say it's not impressive. It is. Quite so. This quintet are fine songwriters, excellent musicians, and have actually taken their post-underground hardcore beginnings and turned them into something that may indeed further rock music itself. This is not an idle claim. The songs on this album are tight, finished, and full of unexpected twists and turns, varied dynamics, fine lyrics, and, most of all, they're surprising. The hard twin-guitar sound at the front drives a rhythm section that is always in the pocket. Justin Shekoski and Beau Burchell work symbiotically with one another. They twin riffs and single lines without ever devolving into guitar heroics. They play as a unit. Reber's beautiful high-pitched voice walks the line but never resorts to screaming, because he doesn't have to: his instrument is powerful enough to ride the top of the musical swirl. The rhythm section carries the cradle of all this innovation, never slipping or abandoning these songs to mere workmanship. Check the killer counterpoint leads on "Follow and Feel," and how drummer Alex Rodriguez takes the beat to the band inside the tune. When Reber enters with "Don't let them know you're watching their situation crumble..." his lyric is one of dislocation and the futile attempt to understand distance and dissolution. The killer, all-out rock riff in "It's So Simple" is beguiling as the song's dynamics and pace change three times inside of four minutes. That's the other beauty of this record; all but one track are under four minutes. The album flows from top to bottom; songs bleed into one another yet keep their distinctive identities. It's a strange comparison, but Saosin are as unique in their way as U2 were in their right from the beginning. Though they are seasoned road warriors, it's no mean achievement that a debut album carrying so much weight seemingly so effortlessly, is so utterly sophisticated and complete . Sure, Capitol will try to make them the next big thing, and maybe they should -- when's the last time you heard anything really new in rock music? "Bury Your Head" is the only track here that is a carry-over from Saosin's EP. Its woven textures, explosive singing, knotty basslines, and call and response vocals are chilling and utterly effective. Saosin walk that line between metal, indie rock, post-hardcore, and many other things. But that tautness is what gives their songs such power and ruddy grace. The album may garner the charges of "sell-out" from the underground, but musicians grow. In a relatively short time, Saosin has evolved into a smart, utterly talented and perhaps even visionary unit that is rewriting the book in the 21st century. They have delivered a debut album that is mature, truly original, that can garner the attention of those kids -- and hopefully, older adults who still care about rock -- from almost any side of the rock & roll spectrum.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek