Samiam have been around since the birth of time, big in Europe, and just happen to be one of my favorite bands ever. They did break up in 2001 after the release of Astray. However Samiam mainstays Jason Beebout and Sergie Loobkoff decided to get Samiam back together by finding some new members and put out their seventh album. Needless to say, I was stoked.
Six years have passed since Samiam put out an album but their formula hasn't strayed from their well-beaten path of catchy hooks, driving melodic guitar riffs, and heavily repeated choruses. Samiam has always been noted as a pre-cursor to today's emo scene even though they were too grubby looking and balding to be considered cute. They were too punk in their ethics to be poster boys for the eternally sad hair in the eyes "Why Me? Generation." They just knew how to right a good song that knew where and when to pull the right heartstrings making their sound often duplicated but never perfected.
Whatever's Got You Down is a good Samiam album, but not a great Samiam album. It's not as killer as Billy or Soar. It's not as catchy as Astray or Clumsy, but surely an improved listening experience than the last half of You're Freaking Me Out. The songs on Whatever's Got You Down are remarkable, but the production irritates me. I get the impression that producer Chris Moore tried to put a wash of noise over all the songs giving Whatever's Got You Down a slight 90's Britpop feel. However this causes the subtle melodies to be lost in the clatter and the vocals get pushed way to far up in the mix. The album as a whole would have benefited greatly if a chunkier, cleaner sound were used to give each song a distinctive feel rather being hidden behind a curtain of superfuzz bigmuff.
Lyrically, Whatever's Got You Down is a poignant and bitter album full of stories of cheating and hearts breaking. "Come Home," "Lullaby," "Believer," and "Holiday Parade" really batter home the point that someone was fucking someone else they weren't supposed to. Someone else knows this and they are not anywhere close to fucking happy about it. It's an adult look at real feelings. It's refreshing these days to see a band sing about being hurt that doesn't involve some hair farmer screaming about bloody hearts and razor blades. You can hear the melancholy, alienation, and the frustration in Beebout's voice as he sings about his love life not making sense anymore. You can hear the angry but disappointed relief as Beebout sings about seeing his beloved outside someone else's door in "Believer." The song is such a realistic look at a love gone wrong it should played at relationship counseling.
Fans can rejoice as Samiam are back with a fine album. If the production were different this would be a fantastic album, no matter what band put it out. Whatever's Got You Down is a memorable rock album full of enough hooks to fill Leatherface's meat cooler and twice as bitter and vicious lyrically. Sometimes real life isn't cool. Sometimes loved ones cheat. Sometimes you catch them in the act. A lot of the time you just want to throw you hands in the air and say, "Fuck it all." You now have an album for those times done by one of the notable veterans of melodic guitar driven punk. Thank you, Samiam.
7.5 / 10
Posted Dec. 16, 2011, 5:36 a.m.
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