The Dangerous Summer - Reach For The Sun
Record Label: Hopeless Records
Release Date: May 5, 2009
I’ve been waiting to write a review like this for two years, but I’ve been waiting ages for a record like Reach For The Sun. And just so we’re clear: I won’t be hyperbolizing. If I call AJ Perdomo the most improved songwriter of the last three years, well, that’s exactly what I mean. If I describe Reach For The Sun as not just a pop-punk opus, but as an opus opus, well, that’s exactly what I mean. You see, The Dangerous Summer have written such an endearing record that it’s hard for me to write anything. When attempting to break down something so dense, so layered, so intricate, I almost feel worthless. For once, let’s forget the Prose Olympics: Reach For The Sun is 2009’s most magnificent album.
Don’t feel bad if you wrote this band off already. If You Could Only Keep Me Alive lacks this record’s concoction of atmospheric guitars, cymbal-ridden drumming and bellowing vocals. On that note, Perdomo is the sole reason TDS have any chance at Super Stardom. As far as personal albums go, this one is intense. Think Valencia’s We All Need A Reason To Believe x 10: “I gave my things away / I called the people that I only see on holidays / This next year’s gonna burn a hole in me.” Those lyrics, from “Settle Down”, are the first to throw Perdomo’s dilemmas in our face. While it’s a fast song (as is the band’s custom), the guitars sit in the background, content to meander while Perdomo basks in the spotlight. But a pop-punk album can’t succeed with good singing alone. The hooks have to be there, and that’s a team sport. “Weathered” shows how tight knit the songwriting has become; each moment rushes towards the next self-referential climax. As the drums simultaneously keep the beat while also roaming free of it, Perdomo croons: “Well I’m an optimist / But only in a perfect world / I Think I’m too stained / With all the negativity / From all the people in my way.” Reach For The Sun wasn’t designed for careless sing-alongs.
I could drop one-liner after one-liner, but to love this album is to take it as a whole. Reach For The Sun sidesteps pop-punk’s problem with filler-heavy middle sections, as songs like “Symmetry” and “Surfaced” are what the band’s previous works wished to be. Perdomo’s voice is even more prevalent in the mixing here, and his inner Kenny Vasoli shines brightest. Then comes the one song we already know, “The Permanent Rain,” redone to a smooth sheen. Its lyrics were clearly a sign of things to come; this song is on par with the new material.
Nothing needs changing on Reach For The Sun. A taut, eleven song frame means all “so-so” material met an early demise. By keeping the tracklist digestible, we can spend more time with a winner like “This Is War.” The album’s standout, this song is a tantalizing mix of The Graduate and Valencia. Brainy guitars weave about with snare-galore, building and building into Perdomo’s flawlessly gruff delivery. His battles with apathy are inspiring and all too familiar: “I told the whole world I was spent / I came around when they needed me / And that’s just how I learned to give.” Instruments rocket upward and it becomes difficult to feel anything but supremely happy. Music is made to uplift, augment and appease: instant gratification that is everyone’s but still ours. Reach For The Sun’s true power lies in its universality.
Take Perdomo’s words and learn: “I really think for once that I can change / It’s really not that bad / I’m learning now that I was wrong in everything / And that’s the reason why / I think that I can grow.”
Recommended If You Like:Valencia, The Starting Line, just listen you fools, The Graduate, seriously fools listen
The last three tracks blow me the fuck away. I don't know the last time I heard an album with such a strong finish. You should have mentioned "Never Feel Alone" in the review. Easily the best song they've written, in my opinion.
This review looks great, although I'm neither a huge fan of The Starting Line or Valencia. I have no be honest, the lyrics don't really move me all that much, from what's posted here. They seem pretty vague and generic.