Sunny Day Real Estate Diary Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

An era-defining emo release expanded and remastered.

Mike Diver 2009

What emo means today is fairly removed from its initial intention – to serve as a sub-genre for bands making passionate music sprung from the roots of punk and hardcore. Back in the mid-90s it wasn’t about teenagers with bad hair scribbling ‘MCR 4 EVA’ on their school books, it was a movement that sought to explore heart-on-sleeve lyricism via means other than syrupy balladeering, played by men who sung it as they lived it.

Sunny Day Real Estate are rightly revered as one of emo’s brightest lights of the mid-90s period, and Diary, their 1994 debut album, is regarded as a definitive record of the era. If a certain online encyclopaedia is to be believed, it’s also the seventh-best selling album released on Sub Pop – some achievement given the quality acts on the US label’s roster, and a quantifiable indication of just how relevant Diary is to emo fans, albeit those counting their grey hairs rather than painting their nails.

Sunny Day have come and gone a couple of times over the years, but are currently reunited again, hence this timely reissue of their landmark release, cleaned up and expanded with tracks originally available on their Thief, Steal Me a Peach seven-inch of 1993. Along for the ride this time around – he didn’t join in with the 1997-2001 reunion – is Nate Mendel, best known as the bassist in Foo Fighters. Sunny Day drummer William Goldsmith also featured in the incarnation of the Foos that created their own career high, 1997’s The Colour and the Shape.

Such a high-profile association has done wonders for Sunny Day’s legacy, but alongside bands like The Promise Ring and The Get Up Kids they successfully locked down a sound that would inspire several acts after them to play a similar style of rock, and ultimately reap greater commercial rewards. Members of Blink-182 and Fall Out Boy have stated how TGUK affected them hugely, and Sunny Day are regularly cited by other punk-edged pop stars as a major part of their musical lexicon. And while Diary does sound slightly dated by today’s rock standards, its emotional rawness and the strong, expressive vocals of Jeremy Enigk ensure attentions are held tightly.

Also reissued is Sunny Day’s second, self-titled album (aka LP2) – it too features extra tracks, and is sure to attract completist fans its way. For newcomers, though, Diary is the place to start.

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