So Long, Astoria
With several indie releases and half-a-decade of constant touring, The Ataris venture out with their first major label record, So Long, Astoria. Spending the majority of 2002 writing and recording this record undoubtedly caused some of their fickle fans to lose interest.
So Long, Astoria picks up where the band’s last indie release, End Is Forever, left off. The record offers nothing new to fans acquainted with the group’s previous efforts except for an abundance of more mature themes, which in some cases hinders Astoria from becoming a great pop-punk record.
The record’s overblown productions are a change from 2001’s End Is Forever, which had a more experimental and fresh feeling.
Upon first listen, Astoria doesn’t offer any songs as instantly gratifying as “San Dimas High School Football Rules” was to their 1999 effort Blue Skies, Broken Hearts … Next 12 Exits. Astoria does deliver a head-bobbing cover of Don Henley’s “Boys Of Summer,” though.
Kris Roe wrote all the original material at home in Indiana to reflect his childhood and the experiences he gained. The leadoff single, “In This Diary,” paints the picture of his typical summer and the revelation that growing up is better than being grown up.
After receiving a letter from a dying fan in Australia, Roe wrote one of Astoria‘s finest tunes, “My Reply.” The song mixes of poignant lyrics, that don’t depress the listener, and music that captures the feeling reflected through them, creating a song that is a welcome antidote to the current pop-punk scene (i.e. Sum 41 and Good Charlotte).
“Unopened Letter To The World” is a perfect example of how the band’s uses lyrics to describe settings and help the average listener see the image they craft for themselves. The former delivers a line that could’ve come straight from Kurt Cobain: “If I die tomorrow/would this song live on forever/here is my/unopened letter to a world/that never will reply.”
“The Saddest Song” explores new territory for the band, tackling the issue of fatherhood. The track is the album’s emotional center and is included in two versions. The second is a stripped-down acoustic version that serves as a bonus track that also wraps up the 57-minute record.
So Long, Astoria holds its own against modern pop-punk classics such as Green Day’s Dookie and Blink-182’s And although it is not a revolutionary record that will change the face of popular music, it is a giant leap forward from the latest offerings from All-American Rejects and New Found Glory.
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