...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead

Source Tags & Codes (Interscope 02) Rating: A
With an attention-grabbing name, some "legendary" live shows, and glowing reviews to their credit, I eagerly bought Source Tags & Codes. Expectations ran high, and at first I was slightly disappointed, but the album has since grown on me by leaps and bounds. I guess you could classify this as an "emo" album, since the band's surging guitars, high-pitched vocals sung slightly off key, and huge drums are classic emo elements. So are the anguished lyrics ("pray to God, but I doubt that He's listening, the world is a gutter that he likes to piss in") and the ambitious ebb and flow within single songs. Fans of other intense, slightly off center bands like Archers Of Loaf, Sunny Day Real Estate, or At The Drive-In should easily embrace this album, which gets off to a roaring but singable start on "It Was There That I Saw You." "Another Morning Stoner" and "How Near How Far" are more subtle but equally intense, while "Baudelaire" has a good catchy groove that would seem to have some radio potential. "Relative Ways" is also very melodic and catchy, and several static-y interludes improbably add to the album's overall ambiance. Granted, a couple of screamers ("Homage," "Days of Being Wild") focus on an overall intensity instead of memorable melodies, but the intensity is incredible, in part because of the fully fleshed out production, which is in stark contrast to the band's more lo-fi first two albums. Besides, the album ends on a high note with a gorgeous piano instrumental followed by one of the most memorable melodies of 2002. Led by its insistent mid-tempo riff, an unyielding rhythm, and an affecting vocal, "Source Tags & Codes" is a terrific ending to a terrific album by a young band that figures to be heard from for years to come.

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