The Starting Line - Say it Like You Mean It

The Starting Line
Say it Like You Mean It LP

With the Drive-Thru record label gradually becoming a genre in it’s own right, with a host of bands that all have fast-pop-punk and emo roots, the question that has to be asked each time you hear one of these bands is; ‘What makes this one different?’.

The Starting Line are definitely thematically similar to bands such as Allister, Something Corporate, Home Grown, et al – so why should people bother to listen to them? The first reason is ‘Up and Go’, which opens the album with a great chord progression which manages to surpass the incredible familiarity of the song.

‘Given the Chance’ doesn’t quite live up to the high standard set by the opening song, sounding quite a lot like a ‘Enema of the State’ era Blink 182 track.

They regain form with ‘Leaving’, which like the opener has a distinct flavour and some depth to the sound. Following on with an acoustic introduction, ‘The Best of Me’ has a more sombre feel that stamps some maturity on the record.

The build up to ‘A Goodnight’s Sleep’ essentially leaves no surprises with the deliberately anthemic feel that gets stamped out to a Brussel Spaceship beat. The bass break is fairly predictable, but even so the track is hooky and has a great sing-along chorus.

‘Almost There, Going Nowhere’, which contains the lyric from the LPs title, strays too far into the ‘done before’ sound that ‘Given the Chance’ had. This points the finger towards the fact that The Starting Line don’t do the fast-pop-punk quite as well as they do the the hooky-emotional-rock. However, you can’t blame them for wanting to add variety to their record.

Surviving on it’s Sleeper-esque chorus, ‘Cheek to Cheek’ is followed by ‘Hello Houston’, which is very similar to ‘Up and Go’ with some decent work in the bass progression and a great bouncy chorus.

‘Decisions, Decisions’ brings everything back down to earth with another Blinkalike track, which although good, has perhaps a little too much of someone else’s stamp on it to be a truly great track.

‘Saddest Girl Story’ yet again demonstrates that this band does have it’s own spin on the genre, which only makes it all the more confusing that some of the songs on the CD sound so heavily borrowed. Eyebrows twitch even more as ‘Left Coast Envy’ proves further that there are gems of distinctness to be found amongst the sand of repetition.

The quality of ‘The Drama Summer’ with it’s well placed lyrics and well sung melody is a great showcase for Ken Vasoli’s vocals and final track ‘This Ride’ has a great jumpy rhythm that finishes things off well.

All in all, the hardest thing to accept on the record is the incongruity between the original sounding material and the sounds-familiar songs. The strength of the more distinct tracks is, perhaps, the reason the other songs sound weaker; but this means that The Starting Line aren’t living up to their own high standards.

Ignoring the two or three tracks that didn’t quite cut it, the album is a really good listen with plenty going on to make it loveable in between the bits that Drive-Thru regulars will no doubt recognise and love anyway.

Written by Fenton on

Steve Fenton writes in our music, words, and culture categories. He was Editor in Chief for The Mag and covered live music for DV8 Magazine and Spill Magazine. He was often found in venues throughout the UK alongside ace-photographer, Mark Holloway. Steve is also a technical writer and programmer and writes gothic fiction. Steve studied Psychology at OSC, and Anarchy in the UK: A History of Punk from 1976-1978 at the University of Reading.

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