Sunny Day Real Estate

The Rising Tide (Time Bomb Records)

Before addressing Sunny Day Real Estate's newest creation, let's take a moment to speculate. Why is the band's fourth album titled "The Rising Tide?" Is it a homage to the mystery and sublime nature of the ocean - which, using one' s imagination, could be a metaphor for love, one of frontman Jeremy Enigh's favorite subjects? Is it a veiled reference to the sad state of problems in the world, which Enigh also addresses in his songs? Or does it just allude to the odd fashion of the emo music scene (in which Sunny Day Real Estate is popular), where high-water pants are all the rage?

Perhaps the first two speculations are correct, but the third is doubtful - Sunny Day's melancholy music doesn't leave much room for humor, and "The Rising Tide" is its most despondent album yet.

Musically, the album is outstanding. It sounds like a continuation - and refinement - of Sunny Day's third album, "How it Feels to be Something On." Both showcase Enigh's high-pitched voice and utilize slow, orchestral-influenced riffs to complement Enigh's voice and set the mood for the song - thus the term "emo," which is short for "emotional." And Sunny Day is a master of emotion, drawing from sources as varied as folk, metal, classical, and musical theater. The result on "Tide" is highly-polished, almost dirgelike rock music, which fits Enigh's contemplative and often-depressing lyrics well.

Unfortunately, with the exception of "Television" (the only poppy, radio-friendly song, appropriately about the lowest common denominator), the entire album sounds the same. And good music, even from one of the masters of the genre, still gets tedious when it lacks variation.

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