Stay What You Are – Saves the Day


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, it’s better for an album to be 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. It, and most of the songs on Stay What You Are emote 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 music video 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.

Review Score: 9.6


1 Comment

  1. […] (Full review here.) […]

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s