Old School Reviews: Sunny Day Real Estate – LP2

15 08 2007

by mr. travis

sdre-lp2

Artist: Sunny Day Real Estate
Album: LP2 (The Pink Album)
Label: Sub Pop
Release Date: November 1995

After the minor success of Sunny Day Real Estate’s Diary, the band was poised to take off, only to hit the dreaded sophomore slump harder than most. While recording their follow up, LP2 (or The Pink Album), the band imploded, with the rumors stating that the issues began with singer/guitarist Jeremy Enigk’s conversion to Christianity, a move that caused considerable tension as Enigk wished to focus more on his newfound religion. In the meantime, Dave Grohl recruited the band’s rhythm section (Bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith) to join his band, the Foo Fighters, who were in the midst of touring for their eponymous debut and beginning the recording process on what would be their second album, The Colour and the Shape. Thus, when LP2 was finally released, the band had been broken up for several months, which may explain the album’s half-finished feel. Ironically, the album would also be something of their biggest hit, having minor radio success with “Rodeo Jones,” while the song “8” made it onto the highly successful Batman Forever soundtrack, giving the band a wider audience than ever before.

LP2 finds the band at a crossroads, leaving behind many of the emo/hardcore influences found on its predecessor, instead opting for a more straight ahead rock sound (though they don’t necessarily rock out in the conventional sense). Enigk’s voice is stronger than before, as he takes on most of the vocal/”scream” duties while Hoerner falls deeper into the background (though his guitar playing is impeccable). It must be noted that this is probably the least essential record by Sunny Day Real Estate, which doesn’t mean that it’s a bad record, just one that feels half baked unlike the rest of the band’s output.

Where Diary was put together as an up and down affair, with its songs going from fast to slow, sometimes within one tune, this album tends to be structured in a more conventional sense, allowing for the album to move with intensity before settling down for the listener to catch up. Whether or not this was the band’s decision is debatable, it’s known that the band had broken up far before pressing of the record had gone into effect, forcing Sub Pop to do most of the sequencing and artwork, going with a pink cover after the band failed to come up with one of their own (Dan Hoerner supposedly came up with the idea for the album cover as something of a throwaway idea). Even a few of the songs were re-recorded B-sides, such as the radio hit “Rodeo Jones,” which originally had been a b-side to “In Circles.”

The album starts with the surging “Friday,” an aggressive number that feels like an extension of the themes began in Diary before segueing into the excellent “Theo B” with its throbbing bass line and urgent textures. The middle portion of the record sags a bit; the production by Brad Wood on this record gives everything a similar sort of sound, leaving some of the number indistinguishable from the next (songs such as “5/4” and “Waffle” have too many of the same textures to tell apart during a loose listen), until the song “8,” which brings color back to the somewhat lifeless proceedings. Beginning small, with only Enigk and a quiet guitar line courtesy of Hoerner, the song soon bursts with energy with Hoerner coming in to back up Enigk on vocals with exploding ferocity, pointing the way for the future of the band during their reunion in the late 90’s. The end of the album features the aforementioned “Rodeo Jones,” a careening number about a space cowboy that is about as fun as Sunny Day Real Estate would ever be.

At the time, the band’s breakup was thought to be permanent, again leading to rumors that Enigk’s newfound Christianity was the reason behind the break. But, it was really only the end of the first phase of Sunny Day Real Estate, when they would return their sound would completely eschew the emo/hardcore leanings they began with, channeling their sound into something resembling prog-rock. It would be a change for the better, for it seems they had exhausted all they could do with this album, a good piece of music that nonetheless pales in comparison to its predecessor or its follow up album, the band’s finest moment, How It Feels to Be Something On.

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One response

4 06 2008
Zorkus

What the… You can’t define SDRE’s finest moment and you can’t be serious about LP2’s flaws, which are just not there… Boo.

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