Sound — 8
Plenty of talk has arisen about whether vocalist Cove Reber could fill the shoes of former Saosin frontman Anthony Green, and the latest album is confirmation that Reber is capable of the task. While there are slight differences in the latest version of Saosin, the band as a whole has put out a solid full-length debut with the self-titled release. Full of catchy hooks and an abundance of harmonies, Saosin will likely challenge the harsh critics of Reber's arrival. Vocalist Cove Reber definitely has strong moments on the CD, despite many diehard fans who might claim that he doesn't quite live up to former singer Anthony Green. Reber shines brightest when there are harmonizing vocals, whether his own additional vocals or the backup vocals of other member of the band, accompanying his own. Saosin (vocalist Reber, guitarists Beau Burchell and Justin Shekoski, bassist Chris Sorenson, and drummer Alex Rodriguez) really does stand out for having some of the most memorable harmonies out in music today, particularly when they are featured in almost each section of a song. I Never Wanted To features both the stripped-down Reber vocal and the layered harmonizing parts, and it is the layering that propels I Never Wanted To from an average song to a solid offering. This is not to say that Reber's voice can't stand on it's own, but the layered vocal tracks give it a more powerful quality. Even without the harmonies, the band has another trait that a lot of bands don't have these days: capable, creative guitarists. There are more than simple chords in the album's arrangements, giving each song a bit more of an identity. Plenty of bands are going for simpler sounds and only utilizing guitar riffs if absolutely necessary, and in a lot of those cases the songs end up in dire need of a captivating riff. Guitarists Burchell and Shekoski smartly give their songs distinguishable characteristics, and this idea is most evident when you listen to the choruses on the latest record. In Come Close, there are separate, unique guitar lines that are interwoven in the verse, chorus, and bridge. It's a big payoff for the listener when you're not just expecting the usual chord progression. Some of the songs do have similar formats in the songwriting approach, and that is the primary problem with Saosin. While the harmonies are one of the best features of the band, they can also be predictable. The songs rely almost too much on the harmonies and the melodies do take a backseat at times. But in the end, there are still enough interesting elements to each song that listeners will likely find it easy to forgive most of the flaws.
Lyrics — 8
Fans of Saosin will likely find the biggest difference between vocalists Anthony Green and Cove Reber in their respective lyrics. Green did weave a bit more imagery into his lyrics, while Reber's approach is a bit more straightforward. The lyrics that Reber writes are not bad by any means, but there's not much that is too different from the lyrics of other contemporary bands. In Come Close, Reber explores the world of love and relationships. There is a consistently open, honest approach to the lyrics on the CD, but the words are fairly standard material for love songs these days. Reber sings, So come close, this is who we are; Come on you can be yourself; So come close, this is who we are; Come on you can be yourself again. There is nothing wrong with the lyrics, but they do feel a bit plain when compared with an example of Green's lyrics such as, Taking on seven years; That holy ghost had left alone; Test my arms, kick like crazy; And I've been trying way too long. Green's were just a bit more unusual and listeners will probably pick up on that difference. You're Not Alone is absolutely a heartfelt, honest track from Reber that has merit in it's own right. Reber sings, Slowly searching; For any sign of the ones he used to love; He says he's got nothing left to live for; (He says he's got nothing left); And this time I think you'll know. It is a topic that will likely connect with fans, and that alone should be commended. The lyrics are pretty straightforward once again, but pure emotion goes a long way in a song.
Overall Impression — 8
While the stage shows might be still show the obvious differences in Anthony Green and new vocalist Cove Reber, Saosin has not suffered greatly from the new direction it has taken. Overall, the self-titled record shows off the best of the band, and there is a high-quality production value that also gives each song a huge wall of sound. While many bands are taking a more basic approach to recording, it's actually refreshing to hear a band that releases a CD with multiple layers. The CD's songs are extremely listenable, although not all of them are immediately memorable. The band does prove that it has the musical talent to go the long-run, however, with unique drum fills and an assortment of guitar riffs adorning each track. It's these little extras that make Saosin stand out from many bands these days, regardless of who is singing lead.