Poised To Break--a CD title displaying the haughtiness of a band, or a humorous jab at the state of the Indie Rock scene? A fickle scene where many have the sounds and smarts to make it with the masses, but instead we get hammered with watered down diet grunge from too many bands that sound too much alike. In all actuality, never has a CD title fit the sound contained within so well. The only other title that would've worked would be "10 Kick Ass Songs You Should Spend Your Milk Money On."
You know how sometimes a song can awaken a long forgotten memory or make you reminisce about parts of your life? Like a half forgotten childhood summer. That's this entire CD. Tracks like "Bruise-blue" and "White, Picket Fences" brings an emotional upheaval of memories that you can't pin down. The lyrics, music and vocals all blend together in a perfect pop smoothie. You can hear possible musical influences throughout the CD as well. "Saccharine" and "Winter Owned" gives you a harder Knapsack type quality in places, but "Where Is Pearl Harbor Day" demonstrates a pure pop innocence that is lacking from many of the bands out there now. Then we have the bonus untitled instrumental track at the end of the CD which is purely an audio delight. These guys can meld with their instruments in a state of perfection to create a flow of sound not to be rivaled. Watch out Pele! Being an instrumental, that is the only tune on the CD that doesn't demonstrate Sunday's ability to give each song lyrical progression--like a story unfolding, instead of writing a catchy song just to have a catchy song. You become part of the story behind each track and from there you're lost in the CD until it comes to what will seem like an abrupt end. Not because it doesn't flow well, but just for the plain and simple fact that you want more and more!
All in all, this CD is an amazing mixture of early Sunny Day Real Estate, the new pop sense of Promise Ring and bits and pieces of Built To Spill. But the best part is that they can take those sounds, add their own style and flavor to come up with a CD that once you listen to all the way through will stamp you for life. But just remember that if you look like a mess, you must be a mess.
Hybrid Music Reviews
Like a number of the bands on Polyvinyl Records, Sunday's Best play a type of indie pop/rock with prevalent punk roots and elements of emocore, particularly the naked emotion and tough-guy angst. And like the majority of those peers, they generally make a pretty competent racket. Unfortunately,Poised to Break ultimately isn't very interesting in any particular way. At this late stage in the game, it's difficult to bring anything new to the pop-punk template, considering literally hundreds of bands long ago strip-mined that particular vein until it was bled dry. With that particular cross to bear, Sunday's Best nevertheless try to climb the mountain once again. The results are expectedly tepid for most of the album, and surprisingly the band doesn't even manage to generate a whole lot of sonic excitement to cover for the lack of interesting ideas. They do manage a few fairly nice moments -- the new-wave guitars of "Indian Summer" and the solid "In Beats Like Trains" -- that you wish they had used as centerpieces from which to create their own personal niche, but on the whole they simply have a go at making the type of album that countless indie pop-punk bands made throughout the 1990s, and many of them much more successfully. The band neither writes particularly catchy hooks nor explores any of the potentially intriguing individualities within their chosen sound, and it leaves the music flat and lacking any sort of intensity. Labelmates Aloha and Pele have both released gorgeous albums full of exploratory music by throwing out the formula entirely and exploring styles such as jazz and progressive rock, but within a rock structure. Sunday's Best, however, doesn't seem to have the capacity to build upon their influences in any meaningful way, nor do they show a desire to. Hardcore fans of indie rock will inevitably find something they like on Poised to Break, but for the listener who needs more than a retread of already threadbare ground, it is best bypassed, perhaps for one of their more adventurous labelmates.Stanton Swihart
Crashing in with a raging pop hook that makes me think of the Police, but more energetic, and even in the songs clean sound you get a pure raw edge. The guitar drives and the vocals go straight through you, leaving the hook in your throat until you're singing for days. When the mood slides down to a more steady breath pace, the vocals move up into the atmosphere, and float, achingly. There's a cohesive element in the songs, one that ties the album together through the perfect stars of sometimes pop punk and sometimes almost 80's rock glitters of inspiration. The lyrics make you feel, either in that heartbreak I can relate way, or with just a simple smile. Indie hearts here, beating with sounds that match your soul, and as long as the music plays... this summer will never end. Anthems for right now, my room fills with guitar, and sometimes it gets so sad you could weep, sometimes... it's like the perfect Sunday, and you just grin like the music.Marcel Feldmar
This is the type of record that your girlfriend will steal within one week of your purchasing it, and you probably won't even care. Sunday's Best sounds a tad too earnest and sensitive for those who like their rock on the abrasive side. Sure, there are parts here that rock, but the overriding attributes are the sugary melodies and pristine harmonies. The band's production techniques have improved immensely from its last seven-inch, but the vocals have jumped way too high in the mix. Each song has a distinctly sing-songy chorus, but unlike most emo/pop punk bands the singer can actually sing.
"The Hardest Part" is a high-energy pogo rocker in the vein of early Superchunk, but the band owes a royalty check to Sting for copping the verse melody from "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic." Seriously, listen to them both back to back. It's uncanny. Sunday's Best then tip sits hat to Radiohead on "Bruise-Blue." The vocals mimic Thom Yorke's Bends-era falsetto, and the chiming guitars recall Radiohead's quieter moments. It's obvious that the band is taking itself seriously enough to warrant such a sensitive disposition, which is unfortunate because it's almost always bad news when any band gets too self-aware.
"Saccharine" has an infectious chorus that's hard to dismiss. It's another Superchunk-sounding indie punk anthem: "We want it and we want it now." The dual guitars thrust the chorus along. Borrowed or not the band has an ear for melody. As mushy as "Indian Summer" is it's definitely got the hooks to make the ladies swoon. Sunday's Best is not far from Third Eye Blind territory. I'm not sure if that's a concern of the band's or not. It may very well want to be on MTV's 120 Minutes. Who knows? The lightly rocking "When Is Pearl Harbor Day?" is the type of song any band with a hint of testosterone would bury deep in the back yard and never speak of again, but Sunday's Best trots it our proudly- simpering lyrics and all.
The 'emo' tag may seem harsh, but Sunday's Best truly pushes the limits of sappiness just over half way through its debut full-length. "In Beats Like Trains" the band takes some sort of underdog-feminist stance, and it comes off not preachy but forced: "The girl you used to tease is rolling up her sleeves/she finds everything she needs in the pages of the books she reads." Does this band think its pop punk's answer to Belle And Sebastian? Any chance of redemption is lost on "Looks Like A Mess." It surges with resignation and these somewhat embarrassing lines: "Drank it up slowly as I looked at the only people in the room/'it's ok to admit that you had been laughed at' said Mr. Deacon Blues/then some fool laughed and 'high fived' the bar-back."
Sunday's Best is clearly targeting the sensitive crowd with these mawkish ballads disguised as pop punk rockers. Turning up the guitars in the chorus doesn't save a song from being a ballad. Just when you're ready to write the band off as another overly sentimental punk band a song like "Winter-Owned" hits you with its undeniably catchy vocals and sharp guitars. Whoops, "Congratulations" brings it right back down to reality. Cheesy sentimentality wins after all. What a shame.
From the somewhat unnerving homage to The Police’s “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” on “The Hardest Part” to the vocals which sound like a watered-down mix of Thom Yorke from Radiohead and Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, everything about Sunday’s Best evokes other, more interesting bands. Everything on Poised to Break is completely derivative. There are no original ideas anywhere.
It is almost difficult to say that Sunday’s Best or Poised to Break is bad, because this music is designed to be utterly non-offensive. They place their poignant pauses just where you’d expect them to fall, and the vocals are just earnest enough to convey emotions without committing to them. Guitar chord progressions are generic and played with neither inadequate nor extraordinary skill. Even the hidden jam session at the end is in just the right place and lasts just long enough. All of this would almost be admirable if it actually seemed like thought was put into it. Instead, Sunday’s Best just seems to be on autopilot, playing by the textbook rules for a band of four white boys.
While it would’ve been nice if the lyrics somehow saved Sunday’s Best, revealing some profound and intelligent awareness of the human condition, this is, unsurprisingly, is not the case. They’re either whiny or forgettable, but usually both. “Some things are lost and some things, I guess, get found,” they sing obviously on “When Is Pearl Harbor Day.” Even when they touch on subjects like domestic abuse, like in “Indian Summer” (“How did you get that bruise on your shoulder? / You are so Sisyphus / Just pushing on your boulder”), they do little more than just touch on the subject. There’s no insight or understanding about any of the situations they sing about.
Poised to Break is fortunately easy to disregard. It’s almost harder to actually pay attention to it. While this would otherwise be a criticism of a band, it’s probably the most redeeming quality of Sunday’s Best. You can effortlessly ignore them. Find a CD by one of the bands that Sunday’s Best is unmistakably descended from and listen to that instead.
Sunday's Best delivers sharp, melodic power-pop-emo with intriguing lyrics you actually want to listen to. The songs are hooky, stylish, and full of bright beats that get you moving while the guitars will burn inside you. A bit too pop for emo, but a bit too emo to be just pop, they combine the two styles and brand it with their own party-boy, heavy drinker rock touch. Songs about girls, drinking, and partying may seem shallow, but they add substance and solid backing to the widely covered topics. But, even if you're too snobbish for the lyrics, the melody will get you every time.Alex Steininger
In Music We Trust