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Straylight Run - Straylight Run Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9.5
Musicianship 9
Lyrics 9.5
Production 8
Creativity 9
Lasting Value 9.25
Reviewer Tilt 10
Final Verdict: 92%
Member Ratings
Vocals 9.81
Musicianship 9.38
Lyrics 9.75
Production 9.63
Creativity 9.19
Lasting Value 9.44
Reviewer Tilt 9.63
Average: 95%
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Straylight Run - Straylight Run

Reviewed by: Praetor (05/12/07)
Straylight Run - Straylight Run
Release Date: October 12, 2004

Brother and sister John and Michelle Nolan have to be one of my favorite musical duos. Ever. Not only are they both extremely talented songwriters, not only do their voices complement one another’s perfectly, but you can tell that they love what they do – and they do it well, as shown in the band’s debut release. This musical masterpiece will draw you in from the first note, and keep you captivated until the last. Never before, since Leaving Through Your Window, has piano-rock been so seamless, rewarding, and fulfilling.

The opening track, “The Perfect Ending,” is a ballad, featuring John’s slightly hushed vocals over a simple, yet effective piano line. “The Tension And The Terror” is a change of pace, starting out with a tightly played drum line, rather than a piano chord. And if you don’t get the chorus stuck in your head for days on end, then you may well be immune to catchy melodies. The next song, “Existentialism On A Prom Night,” is one of my favorite songs on the album - easily. I simply cannot express with words the sheer beauty this song contains. Michelle’s gorgeous voice sings in perfect harmony with John’s, to give it even more of a dream-like quality. If you haven’t heard this song yet, then you have a new number one on your To Do list. The much moodier “Another Word For Desperate” provides an obvious contrast to “Existentialism,” and is very aptly titled. John’s voice conveys a true sense of desperation and pain. John’s incredible way with words becomes clearer and clearer, and is put on display nicely in the next track, “Mistakes We Knew We Were Making.” The very catchy “Dignity And Money” will give your repeat button a workout, and will drive you insane with its ability to get into your head and remain for days on end. “Your Name Here” is a return to the ballad style, a la “The Perfect Ending” and “Existentialism.”

Michelle’s songs are a polarizing topic, to put it simply. While it’s pretty much universally accepted that she has a beautiful voice, many say that the two songs she sings on the album are the ones they skip the most. I can see where those people come from – the next song, “Tool Sheds And Hot Tubs,” is poppier than anything John sings on the album, and much different than we’ve become accustomed to on the seven tracks before. I’ll even admit that when I first heard this CD, I skipped this song frequently as well. And it’s true that the song takes a little while to grow comfortable with, especially when you’ve already been hooked by the style of John’s songs. But once you really take the time to listen to the two songs Michelle sings, you’ll realize that just because John’s not at the mic doesn’t mean that it’s not Straylight Run.

“It’s For The Best” is my favorite track on the album, both lyrically and musically. Somewhere, Adam Lazarra is listening to this song and kicking himself for letting John go. Nate Ruess of The Format showcases his wonderful voice in a song about religion, and the struggle to believe. I suppose it’s a tribute to the Nolan siblings’ talent that the weakest track on the album, “Now It’s Done,” is by no means a bad song. It’s not as poppy as the other Michelle song, but rather darker and moodier. The final track, “Sympathy For The Martyr,” is a roller-coaster ride of an album closer, full of bitter lyrics and emotional vocals, and serves as a more than adequate last chapter to this engaging tale.

This is normally where I would list the album’s weaknesses and shortcomings, but after about five minutes of thinking hard, I can come up with none. John, Michelle, Will, and Shaun have all set the bar staggeringly high, especially for a debut album - and something tells me that there are still good things to come.

Tracklisting:
1. The Perfect Ending
2. The Tension And The Terror
3. Existentialism On A Prom Night
4. Another Word For Desperate
5. Mistakes We Knew We Were Making
6. Dignity And Money
7. Your Name Here (Sunrise Highway)
8. Tool Sheds And Hot Tubs
9. It's For The Best
10. Now It's Done
11. Sympathy For The Martyr
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 16
08:45 PM on 05/14/07
#2
Blake Solomon
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such a great album.

good review
02:17 PM on 05/15/07
#3
Praetor
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such a great album.

good review
That means a lot coming from you, haha. Thanks.
03:33 PM on 05/15/07
#4
Branevember31
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really, really good album..


good review
03:35 PM on 05/15/07
#5
Branevember31
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oh shit you're 13?

very well written
11:14 PM on 05/15/07
#6
gnp8472
sever your leg please
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good review. you have definite writing skills.
and this is prolly one of my top 10 favorite albums ever.

but this score is waaaaaaaay too high. (this is all my opinion btw)

1. john and michelle's vocals are not a 9.5... there are clearly moments (when john is yelling) that there is autotune on their voices. i would say 8.5 because i do love his deliveries and his croon, but he's not an incredibly talented vocalist in terms of raw vocal ability.
2. The production is also too high. too often does this album drift into the midrange of sound, making it a little muddled ("tension and the terror" is my fav song on the album, but it falls victim to this)... victory did not spend enough time on this, because their are little things everywhere that they didnt accentuate or add that they could have.
3. musicianship is prolly an 8.5, 8.75... its still very barre-chord heavy on the guitars, but the piano and bass work are stellar.
4. this cd seems to have some extra quality (maybe its cuz its john and the whole TBS thing behind it) that makes it such a stellar cd... i dont get it, but its one of those albums (among Deja Entendu, LIFTED, Tell All Your Friends) that i keep coming back to year after year. can't wait for the new album (although the new tracks don't sound terribly well-produced again, and this makes me sad.

good review tho.
03:57 AM on 05/16/07
#7
Praetor
as we melt, let's make no noise.
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good review. you have definite writing skills.
and this is prolly one of my top 10 favorite albums ever.

but this score is waaaaaaaay too high. (this is all my opinion btw)

1. john and michelle's vocals are not a 9.5... there are clearly moments (when john is yelling) that there is autotune on their voices. i would say 8.5 because i do love his deliveries and his croon, but he's not an incredibly talented vocalist in terms of raw vocal ability.
2. The production is also too high. too often does this album drift into the midrange of sound, making it a little muddled ("tension and the terror" is my fav song on the album, but it falls victim to this)... victory did not spend enough time on this, because their are little things everywhere that they didnt accentuate or add that they could have.
3. musicianship is prolly an 8.5, 8.75... its still very barre-chord heavy on the guitars, but the piano and bass work are stellar.
4. this cd seems to have some extra quality (maybe its cuz its john and the whole TBS thing behind it) that makes it such a stellar cd... i dont get it, but its one of those albums (among Deja Entendu, LIFTED, Tell All Your Friends) that i keep coming back to year after year. can't wait for the new album (although the new tracks don't sound terribly well-produced again, and this makes me sad.

good review tho.
Thanks.

And I don't know. This was one of those albums that just hit me in every way imaginable. I love Tension, too, but I thought the production was pretty crisp there. If there was anything I deducted points for, it was probably "Dignity and Monie."

The way I see it, is the guitars are just there to complement the piano, and so they don't have to be super complicated.

But like you said, it's all opinion. Haha.
09:17 PM on 05/18/07
#8
walking_person
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Great review. I don't know many people our age who can write that well.
10:32 PM on 05/18/07
#9
Vismund_Cygnus
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Well written review.

Absolutely love this album. Totally blew me away.
05:09 AM on 05/19/07
Praetor
as we melt, let's make no noise.
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Great review. I don't know many people our age who can write that well.
That was one of the points of writing this, to show people that not all thirteen year-olds obsess over Gerard Way, P!ATD, and wear guyliner, etc. Thanks for the compliment.
01:42 PM on 05/26/07
iknowyouknow
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01:39 PM on 05/27/07
gnp8472
sever your leg please
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Bright Eyes- LIFTED or The Story is in The Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground

it was too long to put in the parentheses, so i shortened it
06:52 AM on 04/27/09
SimplyChaotic17
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Great Review!
The first time I heard straylight run was the first time I ever saw them live,
I caught them at warped tour, and I thought it was pretty good.
But, when they played existentialism on prom night, I was completely blown away.
10:22 PM on 10/05/09
timmygtg
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Now It's Done and its transition into Sympathy for A Martyr was one of the lasting impressions this album had for me. It made me love this album.
10:07 PM on 12/25/11
renzenkuken
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This really is a great album. With each passing year the album's been released I appreciate it a little more. Something about it is just so.... something. To bad they could never reach the same heights in their future attempts.
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