Sound — 10
The sound quality is superb on this album. The horns sound well-mic'ed, unlike most ska albums. Streetlight Manifesto is probably the best all-around band in ska at the present time. They effortlessly blend ska and punk. I really like the Eastern European introduction to "If And When We Rise Again", and I'm guessing that it comes from Tomas Kalnoky's (the guitarist/lead singer) early childhood in Eastern Europe. The horns are definitely the part of this band that stand out. They have one of the most professional sounding horn sections in ska. The drums are also outstanding. The fills are amazing, and the speed and precision that even the normal beats of a song are played are not to be overlooked. As I am a drummer, I pay very close attention to the drums in bands, and this drummer is one of the best non-jazz drummers that I have ever heard. The basslines are played so quickly, and sound so great. Look up some of the bass tabs, and you'll be astounded by how good this bassist is. I honestly have no problems what'soever with this album, and I've probably listened to this album a good 150 times, if not more (sad, I know).
Lyrics — 10
Tomas Kalnoky is, in my opinion, the greatest songwriter of this generation. His Keasbey Nights stuff was very good, but this album's lyrics are so much better. The theme of this album is primarily death, and the lyrics show this in stunning fashion. It's nearly impossible to choose the best written song. The songs are also impossible to not sing along to. Kalnoky isn't the greatest singer, but something about his delivery consumes me. He and his lyrics speak as if he is some great leader or something. I can't quite explain it, but it's as if he is speaking directly to you. The chanting of the other members also adds another dimension to each song.
Overall Impression — 10
This album is, as I previously stated, even better than Catch 22's "Keasbey Nights". A lot better. Some people may say you can't skank to it, but believe me, it's possible. Go to a Streetlight Manifesto show. I saw them live with Reel Big Fish (who weren't very good), and the entire crowd sang along and skanked to every song. It was amazing. Kalnoky would even step back from the microphone at times since the crowd's singing overpowered the P.A. They are the best live band I have ever seen due in strong part to how much of a following they have, which only adds to the energy. It is the best ska album of the last ten years, no doubt. "A Better Place, A Better Time" and "The Big Sleep" are two of the songs that I find myself listening to over and over and over and never tiring of. If it was lost, I would definitely buy this album again. My friends and I practically worship this band, so it would be a small price to pay for such a great album. Check out Streetlight's remake of Keasbey Nights. The solos in "Kristina She Don't Know I Exist" are great, and the other songs sound so much sharper than the Catch 22 original. Sorry if this review was a little too biased, but I'm in love with this band.