When it comes to nerdy punk rockers singing love songs, Chris Conley has always played second fiddle to either bigger lovers (Chris Carrabba) or bigger nerds (Rivers Cuomo). Saves the Day's front man may not topple either with Sound the Alarm, but the disc finds him returning to top form, a pure delight for any fan who suffered through 2003's boring In Reverie. The most striking thing about the new album is how much damn energy it has. Each and every song leaps out of the speakers, with Conley's trademark whiny voice performing aerial maneuvers and demanding rapt attention. The disc takes the best preppy-punk elements from Through Being Cool and combines them with the more mature sensibilities of 2001's Stay What You Are, the album that threatened to turn Saves the Day into genuine MTV rock stars. Conley's dark lyrics are overshadowed by the music's rocking energy, as on "Dying Day," where he bitches about a lonely life over a sound so upbeat that the track comes off as a joyful ode. The excellent "Eulogy" manages to avoid that sort of lyrical dissonance but is still incredibly rocking, with Conley's plea to "carve out my lungs" a perfect sing-along. Sound the Alarm is the best sign yet that the band is far from dying, no matter that his lyrics try to convince us otherwise.
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