The Starting Line - Say It Like You Mean It
Enjoyment of the Starting Line is entirely dependent upon how you like your punk-pop. If, like Blink 182
, you like it light, with a healthy spoonful of immaturity, then you'll be disappointed with the songs on Say It Like You Mean It
, their first full-length album. Similarly, disappointment awaits those who are after an attitude-fused rush of pure sweat and spit. The Starting Line fall somewhere in the middle, to both their credit and detriment: playful, seemingly exuberant songs with sweet melodies buzzing around like charged electrons with serious blood and guts beneath their shiny skin.
The songs themselves revisit familiar themes ("Hello Houston" and "Leaving", for instance) and predictable acoustic number "Drama Summer" breaks up the inevitable monotony of this style. The artwork hints at maturity (think Busted a few years and a few broken hearts down the line) but the album has been overproduced, and often finely polished notes would have benefited from more of a ragged edge and some space to breath. The hooks aren't as catchy as the Dum Dums, who also played the same juvenile/serious persona, or even the Jellys, who were just plain silly. But at least you knew where you stood with them--normally humming their songs at bus stops, which, for all the playful harmonies and uplifting guitar work, you'll struggle to do here. --Ben Johncock