Saves the Day's previous full-length album, 1999's Through Being Cool, was a major leap for the New Jersey punk rockers, showcasing the band's commercial potential without betraying its hardcore roots

Saves the Day's previous full-length album, 1999's Through Being Cool, was a major leap for the New Jersey punk rockers, showcasing the band's commercial potential without betraying its hardcore roots. On its latest, the band continues to mature, working with producer Rob Schnapf. The songs here offer sharply conceived hooks and more of singer Chris Conley's dark but clever word play. In true punk fashion, there is a great deal of violent imagery here, but Conley conveys more than typical testosterone-fueled aggression. "Cars & Calories" smartly sympathizes with its teenage protagonist, a starry-eyed girl broken by the pressures of image culture and familial dysfunction. Other tracks are equally well conceived, including "At Your Funeral" and "Certain Tragedy," both radio-ready rockers whose angst-ridden lyrics can't spoil the group's flair for compellingly catchy punk.—SB