Long before emo was a curse word that you said to your friends, there were brilliant bands that were making the new genre respectable. Yes, 1994, and the music was absent of the whining and glam make-up. Only one band really stands out in the early years, or at least has the ability to withstand the years of badmouthing: Sunny Day Real Estate. Diary was their debut, and although they may not have been able to top it, it’s the one album that stands the test of time, forever cementing the band’s legacy.
One of the most outstanding landmarks on this album is the superb drum work of William Goldsmith. His drums fills are technically tight, and he sounds as if he hits harder than anyone else around. Each time the cymbal crashes, you can’t help but fall in love. Just listen to his work on the album opener, “Seven,” and you will be sold. If not there, move to the next track, and the next; you will only gain more respect for Goldsmith as an underrated drummer.
One of the unique elements of Diary is the ability for the band to move back and forth between their soft and hard moments. As the powerful “In Circles” comes to an end, you’re greeted by “Song About an Angel.” It begins with singer Jeremy Enigk’s melancholy gentleness sort of wooing the listener, but steadily the band builds. Enigk’s sparkling shriek breaks in, crashing upon your ears just as hard as Goldsmith behind his drum kit.
And herein lies the secret of the band’s success, even back during the early days of emo. Jeremy Enigk was, and remains, one of the most dynamic singers ever to walk the stage. When he sings on key, you can immediately discern the power of his pipes, but he’s not a one-trick pony. Let him break through with his recognizable belting, and you’ll see just why he captivated so many people for so long.
For me, looking back on this album, one of the aspects I love the most come in songs like “Rounds” or the aforementioned “Song About an Angel.” Slowly, the band walks into a song, barely moving you, resting quietly on Enigk’s vocals. Soon, the pace begins to pick up, bursting forth into an eruptive chorus. And somehow, they even manage to break the formula near the end of the song, steering clear of the chorus altogether. It all comes to rest upon Enigk’s voice.
We should be thankful that such an album was made, and even more grateful that Sub Pop opted to re-release the band’s work, with bonus tracks no less. You can now find yourself vinyl copies of some of the most revered albums of the early 90s. If you missed getting into Diary back in the day, then now is your chance. Do it for yourself, and you’ll be happy. If you happen to own it already, revisit, and you’ll gladly find that the band is more than nostalgia. Sunny Day Real Estate sounds interesting and unique even today.
Download: Sunny Day Real Estate – 48 [MP3]