Pop-punk took the world by storm with the arrival of New Found Glory and their high energy video for “Hit or Miss.” It got great rotation on MTV2 when MTV2 used to be for music you couldn’t see on MTV. You remember. Back when it was not all rap videos. Sorry…I’m a little bitter.
NFG paved the way for many bands to come, most notably the current superstars Fall Out Boy. But before FOB there were a bevy of bands, formerly on Drive-Thru Records just like New Found Glory, who finally got some recognition after several years of constant touring.
Enter The Starting Line. Their debut full-length album, Say It Like You Mean It, featured their undeniably infectious style of catchy pop-rock. “The Best of Me” was one of those anthems that had teenage girls swooning, 20-something guys bouncing around at shows, and record moguls steepling their fingers in scary interpretations of Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. On the back of “The Best of Me,” that album sold over 300,000 copies. Not a bad deal for a young group of guys on an indie label.
Following friends NFG, The Starting Line made the huge, and possibly much too early, leap to Geffen Records. They hit, what we like to cutely call, a major sophomore slump. Dropped in 2005, Based On a True Story, was an interesting album, but a bit confusing to long-time fans expecting the hook-laden pop feel of SILYMI. What they got was a much darker, much harder sound. And more importantly, the album was just downright depressing. It is not that it wasn’t a good album. The songs were such lyrical 180’s from the previous album that it felt like listening to a different band entirely. What did not help was that Geffen, whether just acting the negligent label or concerned about the new sound, did not give Based On a True Story any support. Sales were extremely disappointing.
The band, still boasting its original four members, begged to be released from their contract and immediately signed with Virgin Records. What we have gotten as a result, is Direction.
Direction, for me, is a perfect mix of SILYMI and BOATS (that’s a terrible acronym, isn’t it?). The hooks are memorable enough that you will find yourself humming them the minute you turn off the stereo. It is power pop that will certainly translate live and that will keep your head bopping in tune. Conversely it is also more mature subject matter. No longer stories of a boy missing a girl. Now we get a direct look into what has been going on in lead singer and bassist Kenny Vasoli’s head during the wild journey his band has taken.