Saosin

In Search Of Solid Ground

Written by: TL on 28/09/2009 17:08:36

If you don't know already, I feel that there's something I must emphasize before starting this review, and that is, that here at Rockfreaks.net, Saosin are a big fuckin' deal. In fact, the only reason we haven't yet written a massively biased, commemorative review of the legendary "Translating The Name EP", is that me and PP are both more or less nervous that our writing would not do it justice. To this day, if pressed, we'd probably still call it the single best realization of emo's potential. That's how much we love Saosin.

That's also why, like most die hard Saosin-fans, we've been continually more appalled by the turns the band's career has taken. Most of us we're hopeful when Reber replaced Green and seemingly didn't sound much different, but more and more live performances have shown that he can't by any means hold a candle to his predecessor. Still, we liked "Saosin EP" (aka: "The Black EP" or "The Warped Tour EP"), and even "Saosin", but on the band's latest "Grey EP" our opinions started to differ, as I could no longer contain my concern for the regressive direction of the songs, and while PP wasn't quite as worried, I think it's safe to say that we both feel, like many other Saosin fans, that with every new song the band have released since "Translating The Name EP", they've gotten slightly worse.

And that ladies and gentlemen, is the one feeling that will prevail in your mind after your first couple of listens to the new record "In Search Of Solid Ground". In fact, on my initial spins, I got the deeply disturbing feeling that Saosin were very much "searching for solid ground", unsure of who they were as a band and dominated far too much by their major label deal with Capitol. Everything about the record just screams that Saosin's music has been tamed and shaped by some cynical, money-making big-rock producer. The format has become so much more commercial, and you get the feeling that someone is trying to turn Saosin into My Chemical Romance v. 2, which isn't cool because their sound simply isn't meant to be bent in that direction. Top this off with the bridge section of the song "Say Goodbye" the lyrics of which go:

"Cause when you sign your deal, you're as good as dead."

I could be seeing ghosts here, but seriously, between that and the album's title, can you blame me?

Okay, so anyway, after some time away from the record, I've settled down and given it some more spins, because for what it's worth, songs like the first single "Changing" are rather catchy, even if it isn't the kind of song you'd ever have imagined Saosin playing. And then, once I began accepting that, I started seeing that not all the mainstream tricks that have been imposed upon the band have been for naught. Of course there are terrible examples, like the two very unfortunate attempts at branching out the band's sound, "It's All Over Now" (which is where I think we're too close to MCR country) and "What Were We Made For", the subdued chorus of which sounds like it could've been on a mediocre pop/punk record. However, songs like "Changing" (which is actually pretty cool, shut it PP), as well as "On My Own" and "The Alarming Sound Of A Small Voice" are all potent manifestations of Saosin's songwriting power. And the cool thing is that they sound like songs that Reber might actually have a shot at singing live, which is great because he has also improved in the lyrical department, now penning lines that are much easier to relate to, yet never sounding like he's being impersonal.

Still though, I'm not quite done criticising this baby. One thing I think must be noted is that the re-recordings of the tracks from "The Grey EP" still serve to prove my point about older Saosin material always equaling better Saosin material, as all three of them are among the best the record has to offer (I haven't listed them in "Download" though, because I think the songs listed there should give you an idea of what's new instead). As much as I like the screams in "I Keep My Secrets Safe" for instance, I will still only forgive the band for changing its chorus if the point was to make it better suited for Cove's voice, because otherwise, it was better before.

All in all, I think it's fair to still have very ambiguous feelings toward Saosin. I will even forgive people should they spam "sellouts" in the comments here, because bottom line is, that even the enjoyable stuff on this new record sounds like Saosin have had to totally compromise the raw passion that made them special in the first place. If that's the case, then I hope to God that they have served their time with Capitol soon, so that they can find some of that 'solid ground' and so that we can avoid having to suffer more half-assed commercial material, from a band that we know for certain can produce something infinitely more awesome. Compared to "Translating The Name EP", I'd probably give this record about 4, but then, remembering some seriously yawn-inducing material from Saosin's contemporaries (oh hi, A Skylit Drive, just to name one) I realize that in the bigger picture, "In Search Of Solid Ground" doesn't actually seem that bad.

7

Download: Changing, Say Goodbye, Own My Own,
For The Fans Of: Secret And Whisper, Silverstein, LoveHateHero
Listen: myspace.com/saosin

Release Date 08.09.2009
Capitol Records

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