MUSIC REVIEWS: Sunny Day Real Estate-Diary & LP2 (The Remastered Editions)

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Diary (Remastered)
(Sub Pop)

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Before emo was a dirty word it was a term used to describe the music being made by bands like Sunny Day Real Estate. It refers to emotional punk/post-punk and I can’t think of a better way to classify them. Their music is often loud and furious but rather than singing about society and politics they turn their attention inwards. The often obscure lyrics are far more introspective than many of their punk contemporaries’. For this reason it’s no surprise that they named their first album Diary. This is the album that laid the groundwork for countless followers, many of whom achieved far greater success. All the elements are there: the melodic yet noisy guitar playing, the tempo shifts and volume fluctuations, the combined screaming and singing. You can hear Diary’s legacy in countless Warped Tour bands. At the time though, these were not typical punk songs. There’s the awesome scream-along “In Circles” as well as far mellower stuff like “Sometimes.” On this album, Sunny Day Real Estate make easy work of blending the pretty with the pretty angry. Then they throw in the out-of-left field “Pheurton Skeurto,” a track consisting of only vocals and piano that’s completely surprising but somehow makes sense. One negative I can point out is that the songs do kind of sound alike. There are highlights among the bunch but it isn’t an extremely diverse type of music. This isn’t a big problem, however, in that the songs are like little events in and of themselves. You may not being humming the tunes later on but while you listen to each track you feel it intensely. Each is like a small but intense moment and when it’s over it’s over, at least until next time.

LP2 (Remastered)
(Sub Pop)

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Buy it at Insound!

Though not quite as groundbreaking as Diary, Sunny Day Real Estate’s succinctly titled follow up, LP2, is another worthwhile listen. The band was breaking up (for the first time) around the time this album came out and it does show. Song titles like “5/4,” “Waffle,” and “8” show that Sunny Day hardly cared anymore. However their increasing apathy doesn’t change the fact that they are innovative musicians and songwriters. Though it doesn’t have a very creative name, “5/4” is up their with the best ballads from the first album. “J’Nuh” is another great song here. The compelling chorus features some great harmonies and I’m talking real harmonies, not one guy screaming in the background while the other guys sings. LP2 may not be the mission statement that Diary was and the band may not have lasted beyond it’s release but it’s no throw-away either. Fans of Sunny Day Real Estate’s other work and of the genre as a whole will undoubtedly find plenty to enjoy here. Both albums are important pieces of work in the state of modern music and the influence of this band is massive.

Jonathan Zuckerman

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