Sometimes the only advice someone can trust is that which comes
from the little voice in their own head. The same could be said
for a band, and the second full-length album from neo-emo underdogs
Straylight Run is stone-cold proof. "I've had enough
of all of these songs of self imposed unhappiness," is what
vocalist John Nolan chants throughout the length of "Take
It To Manhattan", and this album definitely cements this
The band's 2004 self-titled debut (and 2005 EP, Prepare To
Be Wrong) both boasted finely crafted songs that reeked of
emotionally self-deprecating lyrical content. They carved themselves
a little nook into the ever flourishing emo family tree, brooding
and sculpting a sound that felt stuck someone between Sunny
Day Real Estate and Nolan's former group Taking Back Sunday.
With The Needles The Space though, it seems that the band
is ready to move from their comfortable and well-worn hibernation
den and step out into the fresh air. Where there once were melancholy
ivory keys and subtle harmonies, there are now chimes, circus
horns and even an accordion (on the jubilant opening track "The
Words We Say").
An unfamiliar listener who has yet to become accustomed to the
beautiful vocals of Nolan and Michelle DaRosa might think
that, side by side, Straylight's somber debut and The Needles
The Space were created by two different artists. An experimentation
with a lighter sound is evident on "The Miracle That Never
Came" in which DaRosa bops across a poppy drumbeat with spitfire
lyrics that reverberate within the pseudo-ragtime hoedown into
which the song turns. Actually, DaRosa seems to have taken the
reins on this record, leading on a good chunk of the tracks. It's
a nice change and Straylight must be commended for their willingness
to play with their sound so dramatically (I would never have pictured
the quartet recording a song as humorously upbeat as the trumpet-laden
However, they haven't completely abandoned their mellow side;
the last half of the album features a few tracks very reminiscent
of their earlier work. But even when some of the slower songs
begin to sound repetitious, their lyrics are their saving grace,
both beautiful and poetic. "We'll Never Leave Again"
is an absolutely heart-swelling love song that stands out especially,
with its declaration of commitment that isn't sullied with the
resentment, anger or bitterness that seems to plague most songs
dealing with relationships nowadays.
Using more than just their sorrow to fuel their music this time
around, the quartet shows a lot of growth on this record. Straylight
Run is ready to move past the college campus and finally graduate.
And with The Needles The Space as their diploma they are
ready to take on the real (music) world.
1. The Words We Say
2. The Miracle That Never Came
3. Soon We'll Be Living In The Future
4. How Do I Fix My Head
5. Who Will Save Us Now
6. Cover Your Eyes
7. We'll Never Leave Again
8. Take It To Manhattan
9. Still Alone
10. This Is The End
11. Buttoned Down
12. [Untitled Track]
13. The First Of This Century
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