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Straylight Run - The Needles, The Space Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8.25
Musicianship 7.25
Lyrics 7.75
Production 7.75
Creativity 8.25
Lasting Value 7.75
Reviewer Tilt 7
Final Verdict: 77%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.92
Musicianship 8.75
Lyrics 8.67
Production 8.42
Creativity 9
Lasting Value 9.42
Reviewer Tilt 7.58
Average: 87%
Inside AP.net

Straylight Run - The Needles, The Space

Reviewed by: Travis Parno (07/12/07)
Straylight Run - The Needles, The Space
Release Date: June 19, 2007
Record Label: Universal/Republic

How many different ways can you say ‘pop’?

The Needles, The Space sounds like the principal just caught the illustrious Nolan siblings (John and Michelle), bass player Shawn Cooper, and drummer Will Noon under the bleachers getting high on The Format’s Dog Problems and Regina Spektor’s Soviet Kitsch. The album, bedecked with quirk, pop sensibility, and not a little dose of John’s angsty acidity, is the first release since the group’s 2005 effort Prepare to Be Wrong EP. I was certainly as giddy as a ten-year-old girl at the thought of a new Straylight Run album – the Prepare to Be Wrong EP nearly rocked my face off. I found it eerily haunting and the vicious darkness of “Hands in the Sky (Big Shot)” seemed to promise a downward spiral of Brand New proportions. However, when “Soon We Will Be Living in the Future” first hit my ears, I took a couple steps back. Where was the gloom, the dirges that were sure to follow my beloved EP? And imagine my horror when the band released “The Miracle That Never Came” as their second early teaser. I promptly bought a couple cases of bottled water and went into a deep hibernation, assuming that the apocalyptic end was approaching. However, when I emerged to find the sun was still shining, I picked up the album, gave it a thorough listen, and was pleasantly surprised.

The Needles, The Space opens at a somewhat slow pace with “The Words We Say,” a lazy amble that could do with a little jump start. Fortunately, the speed picks up with “The Miracle That Never Came.” This track marks the first time that Michelle commandeers the lead vocals in a Straylight Run song and she handles the role quite well. “Soon We Will Be Living in the Future,” the album’s third song, and “The Miracle That Never Came” were the two previously released tunes that initially catalyzed my deepest despair but their good-natured congeniality is dangerously infectious. “How Do I Fix My Head,” again featuring Michelle’s vocal talents, is deliciously cerebral while “Who Will Save Us Now” displays John’s leftist politics in all of their unabashed ire. While he certainly gets the point across, perhaps a little subtlety would have been more effective. The next two songs are standout tracks – “Cover Your Eyes” is a beautiful, arcing tune about the nature of dreams and “We’ll Never Leave Again” is classic Straylight piano-driven rock that leaves John nearly screaming “This is all we are/This is all we’ll ever be.” “Take It to Manhattan” issues an open challenge to the ‘emo’ community to quit bitching and grow a pair – a curious sentiment coming from a former member of Taking Back Sunday. Track nine has me wondering if Nate Ruess of The Format had cashed in for a sex change as Michelle rocks “Still Alone” with all the wry sarcasm, jovial wit, and slow march of horns employed by the Dog Problems creator. I generally fall asleep during “This is the End,” so I can’t really give it thumbs up or down beyond relating its weighty effect on my eyelids. “Buttoned Down” is an excellent acoustic tune that provides the album’s title in its lyrics and includes some fantastic harmonies between John and Michelle. Track twelve, titled “Track 12,” may as well be deleted from your computer as it’s but another entry in the latest trend of brutally unnecessary instrumental tracks (“Untitled” by Brand New, anyone?). I’m not sure when or where this awful movement developed but maybe the new rule should be if you can’t think of a decent title for a song, just cut the damn thing. Luckily the album closes well with the drifting, passionate “The First of the Century.”

Overall, while kudos are owed to the band’s artful production and smooth introduction of Michelle’s vocals, The Needles, The Space could’ve done with a couple more b-sides. “Take It to Manhattan” and “This is the End” come to mind as tracks that surely aren’t forgettable but whose exclusion might have made the album a bit tighter. If you made your purchase on iTunes, you were rewarded with five b-sides that include “I’d Be Lying,” “Waiting on the Weekend,” and acoustic versions of “Soon We Will Be Living in the Future,” “This is the End,” and “The Words We Say.” This is a nice little bonus and, if combined with several of the out-of-place tracks from The Needles, The Space, might’ve made a lovely b-sides release (a la Say Anything’s “Was a Real Boy”). Regardless of these complaints, Straylight Run’s latest offering illustrates that they’re perfectly content to reside firmly in the realm of pop and serve up engaging, enjoyable tunes. Personally, I’ve gotten over it, and I’m looking forward to more from the group’s chosen direction.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 11 of 11
09:35 AM on 08/03/07
#2
leary0315
MatadorOfTheChildrensWard
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Nice review.
09:52 AM on 08/03/07
#3
Why Bother?
#SOSVenezuela
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Quote:
Track twelve, titled “Track 12,” may as well be deleted from your computer as it’s but another entry in the latest trend of brutally unnecessary instrumental tracks (“Untitled” by Brand New, anyone?).

I love you for that.

I've only heard Soon We'll Be Living In The Future and I will soon buy the album, I loved their first two releases and I'm sure I'll love this one too, even more if it has little similarites with Dog Problems.
09:56 AM on 08/03/07
#4
SorryAboutThat
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Pretty good review, although I can't agree with you on the unnecessary instrumental tracks... sometimes music can be better without words
09:57 AM on 08/03/07
#5
Dr. Acula
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One of the best albums released this year so far.
10:10 AM on 08/03/07
#6
OveriseFan
is not Oversized...
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I really dislike this review. It's decently written (albeit a little too casual.) but it seems like you try to come across as knowing the band's history, when you really know nothing.

Have you even heard their self-titled album? Because if so I don't know why you're shocked by the 'pop-sound' of this record...

The EP was more of an experiment than anything else. Also - The first track Michelle has ever sang lead vocals on? What are you talking about? She had two songs on the self-titled, and I consider "I Don't Want This Anymore" her on lead vocals. But maybe, as you've said about "This Is The End", that song was too boring for you to notice. If you're going to review albums, how about actually listen to them?

"Track twelve, titled “Track 12,” may as well be deleted from your computer as it’s but another entry in the latest trend of brutally unnecessary instrumental tracks (“Untitled” by Brand New, anyone?). I’m not sure when or where this awful movement developed but maybe the new rule should be if you can’t think of a decent title for a song, just cut the damn thing."

Um... no. Just... no. And you're trying to make it seem like Brand New started this? Not quite. My favorite album of all time has an untitled instrumental, and I think it's perfect. In fact, I quite enjoy this instrumental, and the one's on Devil and God aren't too shabby either.

So please, while I encourage you to keep writing reviews, as you have a decent writing ability, [Maybe a little less track-by-track and more of a cohesive review on the album as a whole.] please when you bring 'history' into a review, know your facts. Lastly, I'd check your opinion of 'trends' (Two albums with an untitled instrumental released six months apart MUST be starting a trend!) at the door.
10:19 AM on 08/03/07
#7
Travis Parno
my sensible heart
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I really dislike this review. It's decently written (albeit a little too casual.) but it seems like you try to come across as knowing the band's history, when you really know nothing...

thanks for the highly specific review, haha. im sorry you dislike it and/or disagree with some of my opinions but i definitely appreciate your review. yeah, i absolutely love their self-titled album, i just didn't find it nearly as pop as this one. of course, i actually listened the 'this is the end,' i just didn't like it. end of story. and no, i was not trying to imply that brand new started some sort of trend, i was just offering another example of when bands think it's necessary to throw in instrumental breaks as some way of keeping our attention. instrumental music can be wonderful but in this case, and in brand new's, i didn't think it worked. again, thanks for the attention, i definitely appreciate the pointers.
10:26 AM on 08/03/07
#8
notoaststereo
they knew exactly what happened.
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I really dislike this review. It's decently written (albeit a little too casual.) but it seems like you try to come across as knowing the band's history, when you really know nothing.

Have you even heard their self-titled album? Because if so I don't know why you're shocked by the 'pop-sound' of this record...

The EP was more of an experiment than anything else. Also - The first track Michelle has ever sang lead vocals on? What are you talking about? She had two songs on the self-titled, and I consider "I Don't Want This Anymore" her on lead vocals. But maybe, as you've said about "This Is The End", that song was too boring for you to notice. If you're going to review albums, how about actually listen to them?

"Track twelve, titled “Track 12,” may as well be deleted from your computer as it’s but another entry in the latest trend of brutally unnecessary instrumental tracks (“Untitled” by Brand New, anyone?). I’m not sure when or where this awful movement developed but maybe the new rule should be if you can’t think of a decent title for a song, just cut the damn thing."

Um... no. Just... no. And you're trying to make it seem like Brand New started this? Not quite. My favorite album of all time has an untitled instrumental, and I think it's perfect. In fact, I quite enjoy this instrumental, and the one's on Devil and God aren't too shabby either.

So please, while I encourage you to keep writing reviews, as you have a decent writing ability, [Maybe a little less track-by-track and more of a cohesive review on the album as a whole.] please when you bring 'history' into a review, know your facts. Lastly, I'd check your opinion of 'trends' (Two albums with an untitled instrumental released six months apart MUST be starting a trend!) at the door.
11:15 PM on 08/03/07
#9
You Won't Know
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"A downward spiral of Brand New proportions?" If by downward spiral you mean expanding as artists and writing the best album of your career, I'd agree. I just wish that some of the b-sides replaced songs like Still Alone, which seem to just have to much of a "carnival" feel to me.
04:54 AM on 08/04/07
Travis Parno
my sensible heart
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"A downward spiral of Brand New proportions?" If by downward spiral you mean expanding as artists and writing the best album of your career, I'd agree.

no, i agree whole-heartedly. that album was just so fantastically dark, it seemed to me like jesse and co must've gotten real low at some point to be able to write an album like that. definitely their best work, in my opinion as well.
08:24 AM on 08/04/07
You Won't Know
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no, i agree whole-heartedly. that album was just so fantastically dark, it seemed to me like jesse and co must've gotten real low at some point to be able to write an album like that. definitely their best work, in my opinion as well.

If that's the case, it's a great reference.
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