"Let's take two steps back, and pretend that Mr. John Nolan was never a member of another uberpopular rock band. Let's just let Straylight Run be Straylight Run without comparisons to bands like Taking Back Sundy or Brand New, because seriously guys Straylight Run is neither one of these bands. Now that I have that taken care of I'm going to have to speak in sheer reverence about "The Needles The Space", Straylight's brilliant 2007 debut for Republic Records. As much as I enjoyed the good but uneven 2004 self titled album, an amazing amount of musical maturity has occurred since then (that of which was only hinted at on the ep "Prepare to Be Wrong")
The album starts off with the song "The Words We Say" a toe tapper sung by John that pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the disc. It's mellow, which I'm going to say right now, is what this album is all about. Don't expect to find crunching pop punk electric guitar, instead be prepared to be overwhelmed with an expansive use of instruments not traditonally used on a rock record. (trombone, mandolin, accordian) The use of all these different sounds makes the whole album sound expansive and original, not knowing exactly what's coming next.
More so than in their previous works, the lyrical content of this album stands out as well. While some of the album talks about love and politics, a good majority of it is based on the struggles of the faith of John and Michelle. Never more apparent than in the John sung "Who Will Save Us Now", where he talks about how relegion was forced upon him in his youth, only to find out that his beliefs differed from those that he was raised to believe. The disc seems to flow together far better than their debut album as well, drifting from one song to the next seemlesly. Thus, giving it a well needed cohesive feel.
The album is not without fault though. It is definitely soft and slow, at times almost to slow (espically towards the end of the album) I'm in love with the new sound, but found myself longing for another fast paced tune. I also found myself hungry for more songs sung by John, I love the voice of Michelle, but am more fond of John's superlative vocals. These complaints are minute though. "The Needles The Space" is a beautiful, lush album that is far different than any type of rock album out there today; and this, my friends, is not a bad thing."
Unique and addictive
Mallory A. Walker | 06/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ever since Straylight Run formed, they've had a unique sound and a genre-mixing style that I love. They manage to write catchy songs that with meaningful lyrics that aren't a bit cheesy, and they sound like nothing you've heard before. I have to disagree with the one star review of this album. It's completely a matter of personal opinion whether it's your taste or not, and Straylight Run has grown and tried new things with their sound, so maybe you DON'T like it...but that doesn't mean it's bad. Personally, I think it's thoughtful and creative without being pretentious. I love John and Michelle's harmonies, and I appreciate the eclectic nature of this album. It sounds a little more indie and a little less emo, and I guess some people don't appreciate that. I'm glad that they are continuing to separate themselves from the pack and define their own sound rather than sticking with a safe, generic guitar-driven emo sound. Although I agree with the below review that the most recent Brand New CD is ambitious and amazing, so is this Straylight Run album - it's just a different kind of amazing."
Extremely Pleased with the much anticipated album
Christina Dela Cruz | 07/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have to say, although I wasn't a big fan of 2 of the songs, this cd ranks on the top of my favorite cds. I don't believe that The Miracle That Never Came was the wisest song to choose as the first single, because although I am a big fan of Straylight Run, the song didn't really fit. But after listening to the whole cd, I've realized that the whole album is different from their first, and definitely not in a bad way. Just know to expect different music. My top picks are "First of the Century", "We'll Never Leave Again", and "Button Down". Trust me, you won't be disappointed!"
A Genre-hopping masterpiece
Third World Symphony | 06/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Straylight Run have always been on the verge of greatness, yet never quite there. Their piano laced debut was full of strong songs and excellent musicianship, but it didn't quite do enough to separate them from their peers. 2005's "Prepare To Be Wrong" EP took a more experimental turn, but something was still missing. Whatever it was has been found on their newest album, "The Needles The Space."
The band have shaken things up a lot on this release. Where piano once dominated their music, acoustic guitars play a much more prominent role here. Their sound is further augmented by everything from accordion, mandolin, and clarinet, to a marching band percussion ensemble. As on "Prepare To Be Wong," electronics are once again used to great effect here, especially on the sultry "How Do I Fix My Head" and the Yoshimi-era-Flaming-Lips-on-steroids track "Who Will Save Us Now."
Another noticeable change from previous released is the increased presence of Michelle DaRosa, who sings lead on five songs instead of her usual one or two. Her vocals sound more confident than ever, and she shows a knack for odd time changes and complex arrangements such as "The Miracle That Never Came" and the can-can choruses of "Still Alone." John Nolan's songs tend to stay in more traditional territory, yet never come off feeling generic or forced. "Soon We'll Be Living In The Future" sounds a bit like a long lost Modest Mouse B-side. "Buttoned Down" gives the album its title (and one of its most memorable hooks) with only a stripped down guitar and vocal arrangement. "We'll Never Leave Again" and "First Of The Century" are wonderful arena-ready power ballads, and "Take It To Manhattan" provides the listener with the best bridge between this album and the piano rock of their earlier releases.
"The Needles The Space" accomplishes what many groups have tried to do and failed. It covers a tremendous amount of ground, sounding almost schizophrenic at times, yet not a note sounds out of place. No matter what style or genre they attempt, they always sound like Straylight Run. To have this degree of variety and yet still maintain a cohesive musical identity is something that is very rare in modern rock. I hope that this album doesn't fall on deaf ears; it is definitely the best thing to be released yet this year, and quite possibly one of the strongest albums of this decade. Whether you're new to Straylight Run or a fan from years ago, keep an open mind and pick up this album. I don't see how you could regret it."
The Needles The Space
Edgar Vidable | Florida,USA | 06/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you are wondering if you should buy The Needles The Space or not, well wonder no more.
I can't imagine anyone not enjoying this album. If you are a fan of Strayligh Run, then you know about their 'dance and sing along like no one is listening'tunes. If not, then youre in for a treat, the songs on this album are mellow, happy, sing along songs that will make you want to get up and dance, no matter what mood you were in before you played the album!
The album also has amazing lyrics. If you have heard any of their last songs, you may find this album a little different. Don't get me wrong, different is not code word for "bad". I mean to say that they have grown as a band, and you can really see it in their music.
But enough of what I think is one of the "must have albums of the summer", just pick up a copy and see what I mean for yourself.