Goodnight Sunrise - Stop, Drop and Roll
Record Label: Unsigned
Release Date: June 23, 2009
Some albums feel like they were made for the weather. New Found Glory's Coming Home: perfect for an autumn day; Cartel's Chroma: the definition of sunny summer day at the beach; The Morning Light's self-titled: a fresh spring day at the park. Sometimes, the season associated with an album is arbitrary; for example, Emery's The Question is a winter record for me, simply because I first heard it in the winter. While some may argue that it's better to have an album be relevant no matter the season than to specify a time of the year in which the album is best played, I feel that giving an album a specific seasonal feel enhances its power to evoke emotion out of the listener. To me, an album's ability to capture a period of time and bring it to the listener using nothing but sound makes it a success, no matter what the lyrical or musical content of the record is. Perhaps it is for this reason that I like Goodnight Sunrise's Stop, Drop and Roll so much.
Maybe it's simply that I first listened to Stop Drop and Roll in August, but this album has a very resonant "late summer" feel for me. I listen to it, and I am transported back to every August and September I've lived through, and I imagine all the feelings I felt, waiting anxiously for the first day of school, mourning the end of my vacation but excited for the year ahead. Goodnight Sunrise may not be the next All Time Low or We the Kings, but because they can have this effect on me, I rank them high on my list.
The Helena, Montana, quartet plays a brand of pop punk (very, very low on the punk side) that may not be unique, but is pleasing nonetheless. Their debut EP Close and Counting, which was not supremely successful or popular, featured heavy autotuning and a vocal-centric aesthetic with simple and cutesy lyrics. Stop, Drop and Roll reveals a far more mature, albeit more standard, sound than the debut, with far less autotuning and greatly increased musicianship. Drummer Mike Ogle is a standout here, with skill comparable to The Dangerous Summer's much-lauded Tyler Minsberg, as is singer Dan Murphy, who finally decided to loosen up on the autotune to reveal his true ability. While songs like “Trophy Girl” and “Spirit Fingers” still retain several of the characteristics of Close and Counting, others, such as “Leave the Ground” and “Queso, I Have an Idea” are real gems and display Goodnight Sunrise’s ability to craft great songs.
“Leave the Ground” features a great chorus, catchy but not too sugary sweet, with some nice harmonizing that is far underused. The bridge features excellent cymbal-filled drumming and is as satisfying as you might expect of a pop-rock bridge. “On Your Birthday” is the most annoying track, with a cringe-worthy hook (“On your birthday, in your birthday suit...”) and more autotuning than necessary, but fortunately the EP picks up with its standout track, “Queso, I Have an Idea.” Despite its seemingly silly title, it’s a serious but sweet song with a similar lyrical content to Dave Melillo’s “Knights of the Island Counter.” It features a high energy chorus with great harmonizing, and Murphy enters his falsetto free of obvious autotune, which is real treat for fans of The Morning Light, as the vocals similarities between the two are most apparent here.
The next three tracks are fine songs but seem to act as filler, as they bring back elements of Goodnight Sunrise’s older, less mature sound. “Tell Me If I’m Wrong” is the best of the three, but pales in comparison to the closer, “Wouldn't Change a Thing.” Though some autotune is used, it is done sparingly and in good taste to give Murphy’s voice the delicate feel of The Morning Light’s Bobby Garver, especially in his lower range. The intro recalls the earnest delivery of Nevershoutnever’s Christopher Drew (but is far more difficult to hate) while the ending is as epic and powerful as it could be without sacrificing the song’s gentle spirit.
There is little groundbreaking about Stop, Drop and Roll, but when an album sounds this good, a lack of ingenuity can be forgiven. Goodnight Sunrise still has a way to go before they reach their full potential, but if the standout tracks on this EP are any indication of what they can do, they have a very bright future ahead of them. Let’s hope they can drop the autotune for good and continue creating pleasant, autumnal songs to add to my late summer playlist. I know I won’t be putting this EP down until the trees are completely bare and the skies are more gray than blue, but in the meantime, I’m going to keep reliving my high school summers and bask in the warm glow of August.
I think you underrated Spirit Fingers and Trophy Girls... both are amazing lyrically in my honest opinion, and the choruses are both catchy, especially Trophy Girls. The bridge of Trophy Girls is pretty faulty I'll admit, but I don't think the auto-tune is enough to hate. Just sayin'.