Release Date: September 26, 2006
Many speak of it, most have heard it, but only a handful live it. For those who’ve been there from the start, the name alone invokes nearly half a decade of music subculture. From the quiet infiltration of Translating the Name, to the departure of Anthony Green and the ultimate ushering-in of Cove Reber, to the Capitol signing and leaked internet demos, until now, the self-titled full length on a major label.
Some of us (me) have been waiting three painstaking years for this release, so to have it finally come to fruition is both a dream and a terror. A dream because having a fully collected album of produced songs would be a huge step up from the numerous demos, instrumentals, and live bootlegs accrued over the years. At the same time, it’s been a nail-biting experience because after all of the endless hype and anticipation what if, quite frankly, the album sucked?
Thankfully, Saosin went into the studio and emerged months (years?) later with an album they could gracefully fit their name on. Saosin (the album) is slick in production value, band branding, and showmanship. There’s no mistaking the “Saosin sound” that’s marked by Beau and Justin’s battling guitar tones, Alex’s destructive downbeats, Chris’s understated bass parts, and Cove’s vocal clarity. It’s one thing to play music and perform it well, but it’s completely another to take a feeling and encase it in sound. If you’ve ever seen them live, you know there’s absolutely nothing “small” about anything Saosin do. That statement stands true with their Capitol debut.
Listening to Translating the Name now gives the full length much more meaning. The dynamic between the two releases is obvious enough that the band’s mental shift in goals can be felt in the physical presence of the music. In an interview Chris did last year he said, “We just really want to put out a fuckin great record. We’re not concerned with genre shattering or making something that’s never been heard as much as we are concerned about being the best at what we do and keeping it that way.” And that quite simply, has always defined the relationship between Saosin and their fans. With every new song, we know what to expect because they’ve got a writing process that’s downright formulaic. The band have not so much birthed a genre, but perfected a style.
Between each song the differences are subtle, but the barebones are the same: technical, albeit repetitive pick/shred sequences, verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus song structures, abrasive energetic drumming, layered/harmonized vocals, dualistic guitar parts, and innocuous bass lines. This homophonic approach to songwriting both helps and hurts the band because while the fans are spoon-fed what they want, they never get a sense what they could be missing out on. For instance, I adore “Collapse,” “Follow And Feel,” and “Sleepers,” but the songs are largely interchangeable. And while I’d prefer this over something hit-and-miss, I don’t get a taste for the songs that could knock me off my feet either. The one exception to this is “I Never Wanted To.” Here, huge atmospheric riffs take off and never find boundaries, pushing Saosin in a completely new element that’s markedly more mellow and less technical, but surprisingly refreshing.
Still, for all its intricate riffs and instant hooks, something about Saosin does seem lacking. Lyrically, the departure of Green has weighed heavily on the band’s clever wordplay and that absence is most dearly felt when listening to song like “It’s So Simple” and “It’s Far Better To Learn” and feeling like nothing has actually been said. For me, I hear the words, but never actually bridge a connection with them beyond my desire to sing along.
At the end of the day, I’ll always parade Saosin’s craft and effort. Even after the three years of waiting, I still feel like this is a solid release for a band that had to prove so much on this album (loss of Anthony, signing to a major label, three years before new songs). But perhaps this is what I’d call “too little, too late” for Saosin. If this debut had come along 18 months earlier before the scene had taken a nosedive for the rocks, I’d probably be a lot less critical. However, in this day and age of face-paced electronic music exchange and DIY band ethic, being good at what you do just doesn’t hold a fire to what it use to. Being safe is not acceptable, and if Saosin plan to become more than a generational band they’ve got to stop playing comfortable.
1. It’s Far Better To Learn
3. It’s So Simple
5. Finding Home
6. Follow And Feel
7. Come Close
8. I Never Wanted To
10. You’re Not Alone
11. Bury Your Head
12. Some Sense Of Security
“I Never Wanted To,” “You’re Not Alone,” “Voices”
Bryce Jacobson says
Great review Julie. I keep listening to this album more and more, but I get your point on ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œtoo little, too late.” What could this album have done a year ago if it was the same even.
You summed up my whole feeling of the album.
“You’re Not Alone” is the best song for me.. Hahahaha..
I agree with pretty much everything that you say about Saosin’s album, however, I disagree with the fact that the album is “too little, too late.” I know many people that, despite the album took a bit (I think about a year and a half, if I’ve been keeping track right) longer than was expected that the album still went over incredibly. I am not disagreeing with much else of your article, just the fact that the songs were too late to have full affect. I may sound like just a crazy Saosin fan, but I really think that the slight (lol) lateness of the album should not be a damper to the great successes of the band. Especially after signing to a new brand and losing band members before they started recording the new album (and believe me, I know how hard that is).
Every song from this band has knocked me off of my feet the first time I heard them especially “You’re not alone” but not even limited at “Follow and Feel”.
I know that you are not completely dissing Saosin, but I think that their new album deserves at least a 9.5.
Try to sing along to “You’re not alone” and you’ll see quite a difference between what you felt and what you feel about the band now.