It’s getting harder and harder to categorize indie guitar bands these days. Emo, screamo, punk, and guitar pop have all been amalgamated in a giant melting pot over the past few years, leaving it rather hard to describe a band like This Day and Age without evoking images of artists that have nothing in common with it. For example, saying that …Always Leave the Ground is a well-woven mix of emo and pop might draw comparisons to Taking Back Sunday or the Get Up Kids, which wouldn’t really be accurate in the least.
So, what does This Day and Age sound like? Well, the best way to describe the band is to imagine a crossbreed of Jimmy Eat World with late-90s pop-rock acts like Semisonic or Dishwalla. It may seem like an unfavorable comparison, but it’s legitimately the best way to describe the band’s style of tight, well-produced pop-rock.
The band sounds surprisingly fresh, although a lot of the songwriting seems to fall into pedestrian ruts. Songs like “I Remember Me,” “Slideshow,” and “The Day We Started” come off like bland B-sides, sticking together like flavorless lumps that run together unnoticeably. This problem is especially notable on a few of the album’s ballads (namely “Second Place Victory” and “We Always Rewind the Best Part”); sure, the production values make the band’s performance sound good, but the songs themselves are just dreadfully boring.
The main problem with This Day and Age is that …Always Leave the Ground features a handful of pure pop gems – songs that are so incredibly tight that they make it impossible to completely dismiss the band. After a few plays, “A New Focus” becomes a foot-tapping, head-bobbing experience, while “Tomorrow is Waiting” and “History is Falling for Science” only need one listen to get across their catchy structures of soaring choruses and interlacing guitar rhythms.
In the grand scheme of things, This Day and Age is a perfect example of everything that’s questionable about record buying these days. This 13-track disc features three mind-numbingly good songs and 10 pedestrian, ‘skip em’ tracks … and record labels really have to wonder why there’s such a problem with the downloading/sharing of MP3s? The word on This Day and Age’s …Always Leave the Ground is simple: if three excellent songs make a CD worth buying, then by all means, this disc’s worth having. If the thought of 10 tracks of filler is offsetting, however, perhaps something a little better rounded is in order. Slightly recommended.