Album Reviews

Saosin – Saosin

(EMI) UK release date: 6 November 2006

This eponymous debut album from Californian hardcore hopefuls looks to build on the success of seven million free downloads and headline tours across the USA and UK by aiming itself squarely at audiences who want to like Razorlight and Snow Patrol but can’t help themselves from coveting a go at air guitar.

Saosin describe themselves as ‘post hardcore’ but they’re really just old school post-grunge, guitar-heavy AOR for twenty-somethings who haven’t quite given in to their inevitable fate in the local accounts office yet.

In other words, it’s ‘post-hardcore’ only in the sense that it’s now getting on for a decade since US bands such as Good Charlotte started hammering the guitars a bit heavier than the usual middle-of-the-road stadium balladeers and the bands that are doing anything remotely challenging are now trotting happily alongside the Emo bandwagon, whereas you get the sense that Saosin are a little bit too neatly combed and ironed for that.

This is major label rebel-lite music that sounds as far away from the concept of a Taste Of Chaos – the banner under which they’re about to tour with fellow lite-cores Taking Back Sunday and Senses Fail – as it’s possible to get. Taste of Chaos is corporate-sponsored by an energy drink, by the way. Taste. Drink. Taste. Drink … geddit? Still, it’s all in aid of global warming, so that’s okay then.

In fact, while we’re about the business of damning them with indie snobbery, let’s point out that Saosin’s history seems to suggest that virtually the entire line-up has changed since their debut EP Translating The Name appeared in 2003 (there’s even a different vocalist). Everything about them has ‘manufactured and smoothed down’ stamped all over it.

The scene having been set, the music is pretty much as you’d expect. Perfectly serviceable guitar-based rock with radio friendly tunes, if a little overslick for a band who want to align themselves with My Chemical Romance, who they’ve recently supported and with whom they share producer Howard Benson.

Nods to late 80s rawksters such as Dio and Rainbow might be more appropriate than the younger bands whose fans they seem to be aiming at. They wouldn’t be out of place at Reading’s rock day or at Download and they’re good enough at what they do. There’s just a sense that they’ve been smoothed off at the corners in a corporate committee room, which may or may not irritate you too much to enjoy it.

There’s no stand-out singles jumping to the fore though, and that is a more heinous crime. The album’s 12 tracks segue worryingly into one another so that even after three plays its difficult to remember one from another. They’re all equally average, and it’s the unrelenting averageness of it all that stops a two star review tipping over to three.

I could listen to music like this all day, but I’ve got 100 albums that sound like it already and I don’t particularly need another one. They’ll fit nicely into some TV soundtrack, advert or compilation of sporting moments inoffensively though and that’s their main fault: hardcore should never, ever be inoffensive.

Oh, and their logo looks worrying like a dyslexic advert for the School of Oriental and African Studies. If only I thought that was deliberate, I’d forgive them everything.

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Saosin – Saosin