Sunny Day Real Estate The Rising Tide

Seattle four-piece Sunny Day Real Estate’s 1994 debut, Diary, was a defining disc for the post-hardcore/emo sect, its mix of whiplash dynamics and dark introspection influencing legions of kids who now sell far more records than Sunny Day Real Estate ever did.

Even out of its early/mid-’90s context, Diary still thrills, Jeremy Enigk’s wails sailing over Dan Hoerner’s moody arpeggios and William Goldsmith’s thudding, hyper-creative rhythms. But maybe it was salivating over the band’s smart but frenzied youthful output that led many of their fans (and, by proxy, lots of other folks) to glance over the Sunny Day release that really transcends genre or scene: 2000’s The Rising Tide.

In plenty of places, The Rising Tide is the logical growth from Diary’s tender explosiveness. Guitar work is dark and intricate but far more controlled, Goldsmith’s rhythms are propulsive and musical but more direct, and Enigk’s voice is less shredded but able to land the fierce dynamic shifts with practiced grace. On The Rising Tide, the personality that Sunny Day Real Estate introduced on Diary remains; it’s just grown into its skin.

The hardcore foundation Sunny Day Real Estate first built on and broadened is only apparent on The Rising Tide in bursts of energy, really; the core draws more from prog-rock’s left-of-center song forms and symphonic rock’s lush sonic expanses. Enigk’s voice shivers over stomping toms through “Disappear,” and bubbling synth warbles and gentle coos rise into a lush, anthemic explosion in “Faces in Disguise.” Through the title track, the band lets a taut, majestically intricate verse pool into a heady wash of a chorus.

And it’s strange, how we’re wasting our lives,” Enigk sings in “One,” his voice arcing with a mature control, his words landing with a much thinner metaphorical veil than he employed as a younger guy.

The music bristles with energy here—Hoerner wails on dark, dissonant chords and Goldsmith attacks his snare. But, with the way tenderness and energy interact on that song and the rest of The Rising Tide, you get the sense that Sunny Day Real Estate really get why they’re rising and sinking—that they focused in on how to pull the most emotional impact out of their musical movements, rather than flailing on whims.