From their first recorded collaboration-a cover of Bob Dylan’s "The Man In Me" from 2006’s Paupers, Peasants, Princes & Kings tribute album-it was obvious that Say Anything’s Max Bemis and Saves The Day’s Chris Conley were destined to work together. Conley’s high-pitched tenor fits so snugly against Bemis’ midrange melodic growl that the following spring’s co-headlining tour was more of a no-brainer than voting “no” on Prop 8. That tour turned Bemis from Saves The Day superfan into one of Conley’s closest friends, and their bond eventually spawned Two Tongues. With both frontmen contributing vocals, lyrics and guitar, STD guitarist David Soloway manning the bass and SA’s Coby Linder handling drums, Two Tongues unsuprisingly sound like a pretty even mixture of more recent Saves The Day material combined with the more guitar-rocking side of Say Anything. Surprisingly, there isn’t a dud in the bunch.
The main reason Two Tongues works so well is that Conley and Bemis are working in tandem instead of just contributing solo material. Their vocal tradeoffs in “If I Could Make You Do Things” sound completely natural; the heavily STD-esque “Dead Lizard” delivers a kick to the gut when Bemis begins screaming bloody murder in the bridge; the pair even let their disco alter egos shine through on the hip-shaking "Back Against The Wall," which is equal parts Thriller-era Michael Jackson and "Thriller"-era Fall Out Boy. Elsewhere, Conley summons his best psychedelic Beatles impression for the opening of "Don’t You Want To Come Home," a song possessing an instrumental buildup reminiscent of Weezer’s "Holiday" and a spastic guitar solo that must have been a blast to lay down in the studio.
The real beauty of Two Tongues is that it’s an artifact of two friends-one with well-documented bouts of mental illness, the other more reclusive offstage-helping each other through the hard times. When Conley sings, "Hey there, boy/You’re beautiful/I told you so/But you still don’t know," in "Wowee Zowee," it’s hard to know if he’s looking at Bemis or in the mirror, but it’s uplifting to hear nonethless. Album highlight "Try Not To Save Me" finds Conley and Bemis pleading in unison, "Try not to save me/Try not to save me/Try not to care." The song’s lyrics are vague enough to be about nearly anything (Fickle fans? Unsupportive loved ones?), but whatever the conflict, it’s something both men have experienced and are able to help each other overcome.
As Saves The Day fans anxiously await Daybreak, the final part of Conley’s dark, dense, autobiographical trilogy due out later this year, it’s fitting he took this detour with Bemis, as it will almost assuredly have a positive effect on STD’s new material. As for Bemis, Two Tongues is just one more example in an ever-growing list as to why he’s one of the best rock songwriters active today. We can only hope Bemis and Conley continue to lean on each other as they both mature-and that they’ll continue to share the results. (VAGRANT; vagrant.com) Scott Heisel
The Stereo’s 300
Say Anything’s ...Is A Real Boy
Saves The Day’s Sound The Alarm
2. If I Could Make You Do Things
3. Dead Lizard
6. Silly Game
7. Don’t You Want To Come Home
8. Wowee Zowee
9. Come On
11. Try Not To Save Me
12. Back Against The Wall
13. Even If You Don’t
RELEASE DATE: FEB 3