My grandfather passed away while I was in my junior year of high school. My family drove up from Florida to attend the funeral, but not before I picked up a bag of shwag for the few boring, dreary nights I’d be spending at Nana’s house. On one of the rare chances my dad and I were able to peel away from the family, we did one of the few things we naturally enjoyed together, which was taking trips to the record store. It was on this trip that I bought two completely dissimilar records, Sublime’s 40 oz. to Freedom and Sunny Day Real Estate’s Diary. At night when everyone would go to sleep, I’d head out to my grandmother’s huge yard, smoke a bowl, come back in and put my headphones on as loud as I could take. I didn’t know my grandfather all that well but it was still a somber moment, and Diary fit the mood perfectly.
When I got back to FL I played Sunny Day more and more. At the time, when most of what I was listening to was punk and rap, Sunny Day’s instrumentation made me think about lead guitar in a different way. Not that it had never been done before, but Sunny Day’s left and right split of both guitars allows for constant leads and intricate weaving of tone. The quiet/loud/quiet dynamic of the 90’s is further built upon as well. William Goldsmith, bored by the frequent monotony of rock/pop percussion, attacks the drums with a barrage of constant snare hits and performs fills and rolls at any moment’s notice. Not to be outdone by the drumming and dueling guitars, the bass is highly technical, and, with the guitars dueling leads, often carries the melody exclusively.
Diary isn’t on regular rotation like it once was. It’s tone, mostly dreary and slow in tempo, make it a record for a specific mood, or maybe it just always reminds me of when I bought it. It’s a highly influential record though, and phenomenally performed. The two stand-outs tracks here are some of the strongest rock cuts to come out of the 90’s. Diary’s opener, “Seven,” is the hardest and most upbeat of the lot, where the drum attack of the intro and transitions from verse to chorus are its highlight (the song is cut short due to MTV’s wishes of bands sticking as closely to a 3:00 run time as possible, the full track clocks in at 4:45).
The best track however resides near the end of the collection, “48” attempts to take the quiet/loud/quiet approach to new extremes, with a serene, almost classical sounding melody during the verse giving way to blaring, distorted octaves as Jeremy Enigk screams at the top of his lungs.