A Lick and a Promise: Two Tongues? debut doesn?t have enough bite.

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Two Tongues is a big, much-needed break for Saves the Day, the sometimes emo, always pop-rock quartet started by Chris Conley back in 1997. The band hasn’t produced a standout single since 2001’s “Freakish,” and yet Two Tongues, the eponymous album of the supergroup comprising members of Save the Day and Los Angeles’ Say Anything, contains a handful of really fine, radio-friendly tracks. While the album is a coup for Saves the Day, credit goes to the name next to Conley’s in the liner notes: Maxim “Max” Bemis. The loud-mouthed, attention-whoring, sacred cow-defiling, formerly drug-addled frontman for Say Anything is the only reason to give two shits about Two Tongues. Bemis, who could’ve called it a career after Say Anything’s 2004 masterpiece, …Is a Real Boy, has said he signed on to the project because it gave him the chance to team up with his high school hero Conley. But one spin through Two Tongues reveals that Conley’s the one who should feel honored: Bemis’ indefatigable anger—the way he shakes his guitar to give it a schizophrenic vibrato, his ability to deliver lyrics as if he’s shouting at a real person instead of some hypothetical creation, and the way he manages to always sound as if he’s at his wit’s end (as on the pseudo-ballad “Tremors”)—is the real draw. But what should be Bemis’ show is overpopulated with Saves the Day sonic paraphernalia. The album is hook- and riff-heavy, both Conley trademarks, and contains almost none of the playfully surreal orchestral elements that Bemis uses with Say Anything to communicate his mental instability. Also notable is the qualitative distance between Bemis’ gravelly voice and Conley’s nasally, prepubescent falsetto (think Billy Corgan with his mouth full of lozenges and his nuts in a vice). In the place of Bemis’ confrontational, expletive-laden lyrics are plenty of bland, PG-13 declarations of mild angst from Conley. “Cursed myself how I cut these scars/I was dying inside my heart,” he sings on “Dead Lizard.” With the exception of the dance-rock numbers “If I Could Do Things” and “Back Against the Wall,” and a few melodies here and there, the mundane structural signature on Two Tongues belongs almost entirely to Saves the Day. Still, although Conley’s work behind the boards on Two Tongues sometimes dampens Bemis’ balls-to-the-wall compositions, it also manages to build anticipation for future projects featuring Beamis’ irreverence as an undiluted shot.