The Starting Line – “Say It Like You Mean It”
Remember the days when pop-punk stormed the music scene and gave the boy-bands of late 90’s a run for their money? And look at the scene today… boy bands are obsolete and pop-punk is still around. I admit, along with the emo genre I was a fan of a number of pop-punk bands, especially The Starting Line. The quartet from Pennsylvania released their first full-length album, “Say It Like You Mean It” on July 16, 2002. This album paved the way to their immediate success.
There are a few reasons why I love this album so much. First off, it’s one of those albums that I can listen to straight through without skipping any tracks. There’s nothing like popping in a compact disc and just letting it play. Second, the music is full of energy and disguised happiness. That’s what pop-punk is all about. I’ve also seen these guys perform live a few times and their energy on stage makes you want to jump along to the music. Finally, I love this album because a lot of the songs seem to have spoken to me directly in some point of my life. When I feel I can relate to an album, that means a lot.
It’s tough to really choose a favorite track on this album because there are so many I like. I also find that this album has a decent range of songs to fit certain moods. When I first heard this album, “A Goodnight’s Sleep” was definitely my favorite song. But if I had to choose which is my favorite now, I’d have to say that “This Ride” would be my pick. Not only is it the perfect song to conclude the album, it’s one of the edgier tracks that goes beyond their usual pop-punk sound. I love the final lines of the song, “Here’s the things I meant but I never said.” This truly says a lot alongside the album title, “Say It Like You Mean It.” Both quotes clash against each other, but they don’t exactly contradict each other. Instead they enrich the meaning inside both messages.
Like I mentioned before, “Say It Like You Mean It” has quite a diverse collection of pop-punk songs. For one to say all of their songs sound the same would only be caused by the ear plugs lodged deep inside their eardrums. From the quick-tempo opening track “Up & Go” and the fan-favorite “The Best of Me”, these two songs are pop-punk at its finest: catchy melodies, memorable lyrics with attention-grabbing hooks.
The album also contains a number of slower, ballad-type of songs such as “A Goodnight’s Sleep”, “Left Coast Envy”, and “The Drama Summer.”
In “A Goodnight’s Sleep”, Kenny Vasoli sings “You can sleep in your own bed tonight. I hope for your sake you don’t wake up as broken as I am.” These lyrics, on top of a simple yet strong riff, are really effective at painting a picture of Kenny staying up all night and worrying about his future with the girl.
Two back-to-back tracks towards the end of the album seem to act like a two-part story: “Decisions, Decisions” and “The Saddest Girl Story.” In the former, Kenny finds himself in a painful situation seeing his crush with another guy. He sings, “He loves you, who loves you more to let you go?” And then in “The Saddest Girl Story” Kenny addresses directly at a girl who is unhappy in her relationship, yet keeps going back to him. With angst he sings, “Stop expecting change, he’s just a lost cause that you’re waiting on. Take a look around. You can have anyone so leave undeserving him.”
The Starting Line also dedicate a few songs to their fans and how grateful they are for being a band. In “Given the Chance” Kenny sings about playing a show in New Jersey. Almost every concert I saw The Starting Line was in New Jersey and they really don’t hold back their love for one of the best states for music in the country. He’s explained numerous times that New Jersey was the first place that really embraced the band and made them feel important. I even remember at a Skate and Surf Festival, they came on the stage with a huge banner in the background that said “I <3 NJ.”
Though the album was released seven years ago, it simply doesn’t get old. I have as much fun listening to “Say It Like You Mean It” right now as I did in 2002. This album has certainly lasted the test of time thus far and I’m sure it will continue to do so, for me at least. Their debut album is definitely their strongest effort to date. I hope The Starting Line can recapture their magic once more in the near future.