Commerce’s “The Things I Mean vs. The Things I Say

“. . . a solid offering from a band that definitely has the chops to go far.” -MH

Michael Hall

out of 10

The Thinks I Mean vs. The Things I Say
November 2, 2010
Littlest Sounds

Knoxville band, Commerce, has crafted an album with its latest release, The Things I Mean vs. The Things I Say, that weaves a tale of breaking up, getting back together, then breaking up again, then getting back together again, then breaking . . . you get the point.

It is a topic that is well suited for the band’s decidedly emo style. What better way to tell such a story than with the heartfelt whines of a voice akin to Death Cab for Cutie’s lead singer, Ben Gibbard. Sure, the emo scene is not a part of the mainstream like it once was, but that doesn’t deprive it of being the perfect vehicle to tell a story of young love and a journey to emotional maturity.

The opening track, “Certain to Happen,” sets the tone for remaining 12. When the narrator meets his former lover again, the same old urges take hold.

“You’re gonna want it like you did back then, You’re gonna want it like when it was certain. You’re gonna want it like you did so how did this all happen”

But once the certainty faded, things became difficult.

“Last week I spent some time at my sister’s house, thinking you and I could figure out, some sort of compromise, forget all the lies, this time the truth is on our side.”

Even with the truth on their side, it is difficult to forget what led to the demise of the relationship in the first place.

“Meet me now at the spot where you were like, ‘I want to build you up so I can tear you down.’”

The rest of The Things I Mean vs. The Things I Say follows the relationship through all of the turmoil of holding onto something that only goes nowhere. It is not just about the fleeting moments when love is pure and untainted by words or actions, but also about when reality sets in and the purity is replaced with disdain.

In the track, “Missing Parts,” our protagonist has acted on the urges with his old flame, and now feels a bit cheapened by the affair.

“Redeemed we’ve been, now from the start, but regret is all I feel in my heart, talk is cheap, but my actions are on sale with missing parts.”

By the last track, “Not Scary,” after numerous attempts at reconciliation, he has moved on and although the love affair never matured, the main character has.

The Things I Mean vs. The Things I Say is a richly textured composition that is well written both lyrically and musically. Its theme is easily identifiable and its story is one to which almost everyone can relate.

Commerce seems to be rehashing much of what has already been done though, which in itself is not bad. If there is a criticism to be made here, it would be that the band hasn’t quite carved out its own identity and its own sound. Put this up against other emo bands, and you might have trouble picking them out of the mix. Right now, their appeal seems limited to those already with a large emo collection. But that does not take away from a solid offering from a band that definitely has the chops to go far.