Thursday, January 30, 2014

Saves The Day ‎– Stay What You Are (2001)

On request

Here goes a rendition the classic music critic gripe:

If the world was a "just" place (oh silly critics) Saves the Day would have the career of Fall Out Boy, only with way more credibility. 2001's Stay What You Are is the most radio-ready emo album there is and it's not even that close. It's melodic bliss, yet somehow it just didn't click. Saves the Day was just four years too early. The album came out in the height of pop punk's infiltration of mainstream teen culture, and this album just didn't fit the mold of the Blink-182s and Sum 41s of the world. But hey, as a music listener, I'd prefer that an albumbe unappreciated and great than known and unlistenable.

Atypically, the album begins with a funeral on the aptly titled "At Your Funeral." The track is not as melancholy as one would expect, in fact, musically it's bouncy. Like most of the songs on Stay What You Are it emotes more bitterness than sorrow. The follow-up "See You" features leadman Chris Conley at some of his lyrical best, with vivid imagery that is instantly relatable:

"My gut is burning. Won't you find me some water?
Hey, just forget it can you bring me gasoline
and collect a couple forks, hold them three feet apart
and wait for lightning to strike to burn me up?
Cause I don't think that I have got the stomach to
stomach calling you today."

"Cars & Calories" almost seems like a premonition listening back on it now. It's vicious attack on the falseness of celebrity culture and the obsession with appearance is like a direct critique of people's fascination with tabloids and "reality" TV shows like The Hills. Conley's lyrics continue to shine on "Jukebox Breakdown," which explores the very cool idea of what it means to be a singer through means of an extended jukebox metaphor.

The ballad "Freakish" is the kind of number the band was made to play. It's hopelessly romantic swoonings encapsulate youthful heartache to a T. Maybe it was choosing this song to be a somewhat unconventional single that did in Stay What You Are's chances of success, but it's hard to buy that, because it has one of best music videos ever.

"As Your Ghost Takes Flight" and "All I'm Losing Is Me" both feature offbeat guitar parts that instantly catch the ear's attention. "As Your Ghost…" is the most morose and angry tune on the album, as Conley sings of revenge and blood drinking (another missed opportunity, the Twilight kids would eat this up). The songs are just part of the first-class musical variety that Saves the Day's members display throughout Stay What You Are.

With the album nearing it's end things wind down with "Nightingale" and "This Is Not An Exit." They are more delicate, understated tunes which gives them a bit more reflective air. It amazing more songs in the genre are not do not strive for this sound, which fits the downtrodden aesthetic so much more accurately. As Stay What You Are goes out in a glorious burst of flickering flames on "Firefly," one could bemoan a band that had every right to make it and didn't. But that misses the point. Saves the Day made an album the likes of which the bands that followed in their success can't touch. That seems just enough.

"Hey guys, did you hear the new Saves The Day CD?"

"Yeah, it blows...what a bunch of stupid cry babies."

That has been a common reaction to the new album throughout the punk scene...

Recorded in early 2001, the new STD album, Stay What You Are, takes the band to a completely new level. If you're looking for a Can't Slow Down or Through Being Cool rehash, just quit reading this review right now. The 11 song disc begins with "At Your Funeral", an amazingly catchy, but amazingly dark song. The whole album is far darker than any previous effort by the band. 
Followed by "At Your Funeral" are, "See You", "Cars & Calories", "Certain Tragedy", and "Jukebox Breakdown." The album is so varied, it's hard to categorize it. But, labels are useless, right? As those first 5 songs pass by, you notice the change in the band. You notice the darkness, the distorted guitars. You notice a brand new band. 
"Freakish" follows after "Jukebox Breakdown", and it's just an amazing song. Words are hard to describe it. "I'll make my way across the frozen sea, beyond the blank horizon, wehre I can forget you and me, and geta decent night's sleep." If that's not sincere I don't know what is. 
"As Your Ghost Takes Flight" is next up. It's a song for the whole family. No, not really. It's a creatively violent song, which scared the poo out of me the first time I heard it, but it fits in nicely with the theme of the album. Sometimes you just have to let go, as things change... 
After that, "Nightingale" follows. By far the best song on the disc. The song is written like a dark story that you don't want to end, as is the entire album. There's just something special about "Nightingale" that will have you hitting replay over and over again. 
"All I'm Losing Is Me" continues the dark theme, and then the slow love song pops up, "This Is Not An Exit." It's a really well written song for the brokenhearted. "Firefly" ends the album, and it does it in good fashion too. Good song. 
Yes, this is the most diverse work that STD has ever done. No, you will not enjoy this album if all you want is fast paced punk. Yes, you have to have a deep mind to understand the genius in this album. 
Chris Conley has received critical praise across the board for his amazing lyrics, and vocals. That credit is much deserved, I might add. The guy is a genius. 
Dave Soloway and Ted Alexander have vastly improved on guitar, and it shows on this one. Eben D'Amico's roaring bass is amazing. Bryan Newman's drumming fits beautifully. 
My rate's a 9 out of 10, but I really think it's a 9 & a half. Do yourself a favor. Pick this one up on a rainy day.

Review Summary: Saves the Day's best release, and a huge milestone in the history of Pop Punk.

I remember the first time I listened to this album vividly. I was in my bedroom scoping through internet for new music to listen to. The clatter of rain dripped down my window graciously, and I had no luck finding good material to get into. I was a sucker for Pop Punk at the time, especially Taking Back Sunday's "Tell All your Friends". After about an hour of searching for something, I came across the group "Saves the Day". At first, I was skeptical about the band due to the silly name and the cliché cover used for their most popular album, "Stay What You Are". After reading a bit more about it, and the critical acclaim the album garnered, I decided to give it a listen. I did not enter the album positive; I went in with the sole purpose of ripping the album to shreds. When the last words of "Fireflies" were sung, the growing sunlight poured through my window and I was in awe of how wrong I was.

"Stay What You Are" does little to improvise a unique sound that differed from most Pop-Punk groups at the time. The quirky guitar work, catchy drums, and clean vocals are all there. However, Saves the Day rather improvises on the generic rhythms with impressive instrumental works and irresistible lyrics to sing along too. Right when the first words of "At Your Funeral" were spoken, I was hooked on the catchy lyrics as well as Chris Connelly's fantastic vocal performance. Some people use the word "feminine" to describe his voice. I have never found his voice feminine, yet I find it to be a bit whiny at some points of the album. This isn't much of a negative, since the positives of his voice and lyrics highly outweigh the negative. His voice stays strong throughout the album, as his voice never lets up until the very end.

The guitar work on the album is to be noted also. Though the guitar doesn't stray too far from its crunchy chords and three finger riffs, it provides an excellent way to be enticed to the song, as it doesn't attempt to outdo the rest of the performances. The best example of the guitar work found on the album is showcased on "This is Not an Exit", I find myself humming the guitar on this song frequently. Even though it may seem simplistic at first, you must realize that it isn't trying to outshine the other instruments on the track. The bass can be heard frequently, but it doesn't do much to improvise the sound with the other instruments. I found myself enjoying the guitar and drums a lot more, with the bass proving to be a shadow in the back of the other two instruments.

The drums on the album are well placed and executed perfectly; they keep the rhythm of the album at a balance, as well as improvising on the mood of each song. The drums provide different tracks for each song, and don't sound recycled like some other Pop Punk releases at the time. The cymbal crashes on "Nightingale" are by far my favorite example of excellent drumming on the entire album. They do their job, improving the songs atmosphere and overall sound for a good cause. The drums on the album are not what you would here from your typical Pop Punk album. They provide enjoyable tracks to keep up with as each song flows off of each other.

The standouts of the album are found in the final few songs on the album. "Nightingale" is an excellent slower song that builds tension with its hard hitting drums and Connelly's beautiful lyrics. I always get a chill when Connelly sings gracefully "The Nightingales are singing out!" The chorus is one of the catchiest on the album, and the bass line provides an interesting groove to get into. The next standout would be the famous "This is Not an Exit". This is by far the most memorable song on the entire album. After my first listen, I could recall the chorus and opening guitar strums by memory. Chris Connelly out does himself here, with intricate lyrics and a beautiful ring to each melody he produces with his voice. The finale of the song takes the song to a whole new level though. The lyrics are just so mesmerizing, I find myself smiling every time the song reaches its climax. The honest lyrics spill out of Connelly's mouth so positively and clean that there's no reason to not feel happy. I still listen to this song every time I'm down in the gutter, it's such a wonderful song, and I recommend it for anyone who is into Pop Punk. The final song, "Fireflies" kicks off hard, with some of the fastest work on the album. The lyrics are honest and subtle, yet highly affective. There seems to be less interest in providing a catchy chorus, but with a bigger intention of closing off the album with a grand finale. The final minute and a half of the song is some of the best on the entire album, as all the instruments collide together to form a memorable harmony as Connelly signs it off.

This is by far one of the most enjoyable Pop Punk albums I have ever listened to. The lyrics are memorable and catchy, the instruments are well crafted and each serves a purpose, and the energy put into the album is off the scale. Chris Connelly's vocal performance is top notch, giving each song color and emotion with each note his voice provides. This is Saves the Day's greatest achievement, and it's a shame they could not capitalize on such a great start. This album has become a staple in the industry, and it serves its purpose for being one of the best Pop Punk albums ever made.

Punk rock finally smiled during the late '90s and into the millennium, thanks to the bands like New Found Glory, Sum 41, and countless other TRL mainstays. New Jersey's own Saves the Day play with post-punk stylings on their third album, Stay What You Are. More mature compared to 1999's Through Being Cool, Stay What You Are mixes emocore delight with post-grunge snarl, and Saves the Day's harmonies are jaunty and tight. But the album is also quite dark and grim; they stay close to the anger found in punk in the first place. Album opener "At Your Funeral" pauses at the idea of death of a peer. Frontman Chris Conley's boyish vocals project a façade of sweet, bouncy sounds, practically glossy and sheer. The bleak descriptions found on "Jukebox Breakdown" and "Nightingale" capture the grittiest three-chord riffs and Saves the Day's highest artistic moment yet. They're bittersweet from love, and self-discovery is most pertinent. They want to avoid such loss, and "All I'm Losing Is Me" suggests that. Saves the Day is conscious of what's affecting their generation, post Generation-X, and they're asking thousands of questions. Stay What You Are yearns to fight the compromise within social standards and complies with bit of self-indulgence.
MacKenzie Wilson


  1. Thanks a bunch. Keep this awesome blog up and running

  2. you have all bug sessions???