Friday, February 3, 2012

Matt Pryor - May Day

Last January, the Get Up Kids released their comeback album There Are Rules. Here we are a year later (I know it's February, shut it), and front man Matt Pryor has completed his second solo album, May Day. Mostly funded by a Kickstarter campaign and a bulk of it being written and recorded last May (get it?), this sophomore release is not only the perfect follow up to his debut album, Confidence Man, but also as the perfect follow up to last year's Get Up Kids album.

Musically, the album never strays far from the formula used on Confidence Man and, to some extent, Matt Pryor's other project the New Amsterdams. Acoustic guitars, soft drumming, the occasional harmonica and a plethora of instruments that if I named individually would take awhile. Last but not least there is, of course, Matt's signature scratchy, yet soft and sweet, vocals. When looked at from this aspect, May Day becomes the perfect follow up to Confidence Man, albeit it slightly odd as in the past, Matt has always tried to stay away from releasing two similar sounding albums in a row (that may or may not be entirely accurate, I'm basing that sentence entirely on the Get Up Kids discography and nothing else).

Lyrically, however, May Day hits closer to the bitterness found on There Are Rules. Both albums were written somewhat within the same time frame, so it's only natural to think that the emotions and feelings in the songs would be carried over. That said, the anger and disappointment on the Get Up Kids album is deeply rooted in the "savior" status that the Get Up Kids have in the emo scene and their rejection of title, whereas the anger on May Day could be said to be more heart-on-sleeve. Don't let May Day fool you, the songs may sound nice and pretty, but you don't even need to listen to the lyrics to know that the songs are angry, just read some of the song titles: The Lies Are Keeping Me Here. As If I Could Fall in Love with You Again. Polish the Broken Glass. Unhappy is the Only Happy You'll Ever Be. As Lies Go... This One is Beautiful. You Won't Get Any Blood from Me. You don't have to be a Sherlock to know there are some recurring themes of negativity going on here.

Two of the albums strongest tracks are possibly some of the angriest. Track four, Like a Professional, calls out an old friend while also referencing his work with the Get Up Kids: "What became of everyone I used to know/I wrote that song for you, and I meant every word" The song ends on a bitter note, with Pryor singing "And to fail/and trust me, when you fall you will fall hard/oh, it sails/and you lose sight of who you really are." The other track, Your New Favorite, sounds like a really sweet song upon first listen and it musically is reminiscent of Confidence Man's title track. With a chorus like "So I'm going on whistling to your new favorite song/whistling your new favorite song" it is easy to mistake it for the future highlight song of the next mixtape that you're going to make for that special someone. But then you listen to lines such as "I can lie to you so genuine/I sell it with a smile/I can thanks ladies and gentlemen/while breaking up inside" and you have stop for awhile and re-consider the song's meaning. Yes, the Get Up Kids had some bitter songs, but these songs have their own bitter identity and show that Matt Pryor still has it in him.

After all of the bitterness is over, the album ends on a rather loving note. It's almost like a story where the clouds have finally cleared and the character is realizing it's not all that bad and there are some nice things worth having in life in spite of all the awful things. "While I was gone/it was nothing but midnight/a new day has dawned/so welcome the sunlight/I've seen everything that my tired eyes would view/there's nothing that compares to seeing you."

There are a lot of front men from the modern punk scene doing the solo acoustic thing these days. Maybe it's because the Get Up Kids were never really "punk" to begin with but Matt Pryor avoids being lumped in with the Revival Tour crowd by taking a different approach to roughly the same folksy, acoustic music. Of course, he does perform on the Where's the Band? Tour, but none of those other guys have officially released solo albums yet so it still seems refreshingly original.

(Speaking of the Where's the Band? Tour, this album features two iTunes bonus tracks: covers of Husking Bee's Walk and Saves the Day's Freakish. They originally on the Three Way Split between him, Chris Conley [of Save's the Day] [duh] and Masafumi Isobe [of Husking Bee] [as you probably figured out])

Edit: It has come to my attention that I'm an idiot. Dustin Kensrue, of Thrice, has released a solo album, as well as a Christmas album. I know I've never received any comments correcting the mistakes that I make, but I just wanted to address it ahead of time in case someone comes across this blog in the future and wants to tell me that I messed up.

Edit part 2: the guy from Bayside also just released a solo album last month. I am super far behind on the times.

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