Saosin – In Search of Solid Ground

  • Cole Faulkner posted
  • Reviews


In Search Of Solid Ground - Virgin Records

It must be tough emerging as the “it” band during a group’s debut.  Sure the spotlight probably feels great, but ultimately the thought of writing something even half as brilliant as a follow-up probably scares the crap out of such acts.  To put it simply, existing in the realm of writing catchy radio hits must be terribly stressful.  Thus is the case with Newport Beach’s Saosin. You couldn’t escape the buzz leading up to their 2006 debut regardless of which alternative scene you were part of.  And when it finally hit the streets, it became one of those rare releases that actually exceeded expectations on the sheer strength of its hooks and infectious rock sensibilities.

Fast-forward to 2009 and Saosin are working hard to cement their dominance at the head of the emo-rock genre.  Fondly remembering their debut, I felt pretty stoked when I learned I would be reviewing their follow-up, “In Search of Solid Ground.”  So I popped in the disc and took it for a spin.  But rather than feeling energized and alive right out the gate, something felt amiss.  Where were the soaring highs?  What had happened to the infectious hooks?  And why did I feel so bored?  Track after track In Search of Solid Ground left me unfulfilled and empty.

The exact problem though is hard to pinpoint.  On the one hand Saosin still sounds like Saosin.  Lead vocalist Cove Reber’s vocals remain familiar and quite capable, and the band hasn’t strayed too far from their altrock roots.  But now everything just sort of blends together, and by the end of each track I found myself at a loss for pointing out memorable and defining moments.  Ask me the difference between sequential tracks like “I Keep my Secrets Safe” and “Deep Down” and I really couldn’t tell you.  To make matters worse, when the band tries something new it comes off feeling like a forced attempt at offering up variety.  For example, in “Changing” Reber’s speed talking during the verse should feel fresh and unique, but instead comes across disjointed and out of place.

Occasional moments of a former brilliance occasionally shine through, but they’re a tough find.  “The Alarming Sound of a Still Small Voice” sounds remarkably deep during the choruses thanks to Reber’s emotional delivery and strong backing vocals, but the track is clearly the exception rather than the rule.

Ultimately In Search of Solid Ground is momentarily satisfactory but offers very little substance once the music stops.  It’s not that these tracks are poorly written – the boys clearly still have talent – but they seem to have lost their touch.  Catchy mainstream emo-rock needs memorable, uniquely defined hooks for success.  Saosin may have started out with a firm foundation a few years back, but as far as In Search of Solid Ground is concerned, the boys seem to have lost their footing.