The Starting Line: Say It Like You Mean It Review

The Starting Line’s current status may be unknown and their last two records may have taken a slight step backward, but their debut album will always live on as a phenomenal alternative/punk rock masterpiece. Despite the fact that its circulation and distribution was limited, Say It Like You Mean It is a classic for the genre. It’s unfortunate that many fans of The Starting Line are hardly even aware of this album’s existence or importance, since the band’s popularity and fame came about with the release of Based On A True Story. Nevertheless, this debut album is the pinnacle of the band’s discography, capturing the listener’s interest with upbeat rhythms, bouncy guitar riffs and lead singer Kenny Vasoli’s pleasantly scratchy vocals. The catchy nature of this record cannot be understated, as every drum beat provokes head-bobbing, every whine of the guitar conveys optimism, and every declaration from Vasoli is heartfelt and fun. There are no let-down tracks here, and the only gripe for this album would be a lack of variety. But with thirteen terrific songs like these, it’s hard to hold this minor complaint against such a wonderful album.

Standout Tracks

Leaving” follows two stellar opening tracks with a song that should be a slight downer based solely on the lyrics of its chorus. But that’s where the beauty of this album is best seen: no matter what The Starting Line is playing about, the result is an optimistic and happy song about the good things in life or about how to handle the bad without bringing you down. Like many songs on the album, “Leaving” leads off with acoustic guitar and Vasoli’s soft vocals, allowing him to show more of his vocal range as he shifts from those softer coos to impassioned wails of “Please don’t leave me without saying goodbye.”

The Best Of Me” reveals how much fun this band has with their music throughout Say It Like You Mean It. This is The Starting Line at their catchiest and most memorable, between Tom Gryskiewicz’s spunky drum beat, the animated guitar riffs of Mike Golla and Matt Watts and Vasoli’s positively joyous and strained declarations of “Tell me what you thought about when you were gone / And so alone / The worst is over / You can have the best of me / We got older, but we’re still young / We never grew out of this feeling that we won’t give up.” Simply put, this is what the alternative/punk rock genre is all about.

“The Drama Summer” changes the pace a bit, slowing things down for an ballad dominated by acoustic guitar and Vasoli’s coarse but endearing vocals. There isn’t a lot to this song, but the words are relatable and this acoustic track mixes things up to give the album a little variety. Most will prefer the other twelve upbeat tracks to this slower one, but even for a brief moment, it’s nice to see The Starting Line show some signs of diversity in their music.

The Verdict

With an addictive and lengthy run time, Say It Like You Mean Icements its place on the list of hallowed alternative rock albums that were influential in the genre and deserve to be remembered for their sincerity and enjoyability. This album is all about the happiness and good things in life, which Vasoli says best on “Given The Chance”: “What can I say that can explain? All this time I’m loving life.” These are the words of a band just happy to be here, and Say It Like You Mean It is dripping with that same uplifting and optimistic attitude, which makes for some truly memorable alternative songs. The Starting Line’s debut album is a classic, nearly flawless work from start to finish with catchy punk jingles and enough emotion to distance this breakthrough record from its competition. Narrowing the list of standout tracks to just three almost seems unfair, as leaving out highly enjoyable tracks like “Up & Go” and “Hello Houston” means depriving two more catchy songs of their due. Fans of New Found Glory, Sum 41, Yellowcard, Blink-182, Motion City Soundtrack, Cartel, Something Corporate, Hit The Lights and The Early November will be right at home with this classic and should be able to appreciate its alternative and punk rock merits. Say It Like You Mean It was never really an overly popular album, but those fortunate enough to have discovered it know that it was not only The Starting Line’s best work, but a piece of art that influenced the genre itself.

Final Score: 9.6/10

Rank: 1st (three total albums)

Track List

  1. Up & Go
  2. Given The Chance
  3. Leaving
  4. The Best Of Me
  5. A Goodnight’s Sleep
  6. Almost There, Going Nowhere
  7. Cheek To Cheek
  8. Hello Houston
  9. Decisions, Decisions
  10. Saddest Girl Story
  11. Left Coast Envy
  12. The Drama Summer
  13. This Ride

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