This record almost does for emo what All Mod Cons did for punk. The
songs are melodic, passionately sung and far too diverse to truly be tied
to any genre. The only thing they really have in connection with the "emo"
genre are Wisconsin genes and a joint sing/yell style that's brought in toward the
end of many songs for added intensity. As with Paul Weller's lyrics, the
band fills their songwriting with feelings that idealistic youth can connect
with, such as distaste for the marketing side of music ("Saccharine") and a
fear of looking romantically at the world ("When Is Pearl Harbor Day?").
This latter song, about trying to remember the birthdate of a past
girlfriend who used to like the Cars, also contains this interesting passage
about memory: "I hate nostalgia/It tries too hard/To remember only the easy
Like most great music groups, though, Sunday's Best are very romantic, seeking to move your emotions and your feet around and about through each song.
They succeed because they know, thank God, that a four-minute
song should compact moments of our lives rather than trying to capture them in real
time; thus, these songs remember just the "big and heavy" easy parts. The
feelings are not subtle or nuanced -- which they seldom seem to be among
youth -- but they pack a real, legitimate punch in your heart.
My problems with Sunday's Best arise only with regard to the way they foul up
consistently rich and catchy wonders like "White, Picket Fences" with lyrics
("Girl, before we both start to say some mean shit that we cannot let go")
that prevent them from getting played on radio or for many of our parents
and friends. In the aforementioned song, the oft-repeated line's employment of the word
"shit" is not used emotionally, or even sung with zest; rather, it's just a
popular phrase that popped lazily from the band's heads to the song's
surface. Yes, even in the year 2000, despite our culture's casual familiarity
with four-letter words, there are still a lot of people who are put off by
profanity in song lyrics -- especially when it's used so off-handedly. If you and your friends don't care about such things, buy
Poised to Break immediately. I've listened to it for the last few
weeks repeatedly,, and the music and playing behind the songs still manages to
convey lots of power and pop appeal.
It annoys me a lot, though, that I have heard a great, great band, and I'm
not able to comfortably share it with my family or my more
conservative friends. It makes me lament, not applaud, the truth behind a
statement Wayne Coyne once made: American indie bands don't tend to care
about sales or fame. If the great Sunday's Best had given a damn about the
radio, they would have fine-tuned their lyrics to such an extent that radio
would have finally become a damn wonderful thing to turn on. This, of course,
makes the album's title wonderfully ironic; they're Poised to Break on
radio, but they've sabotaged themselves.