Every now and then I come across a band who is able to mix so many of the elements I enjoy about music and present it in a pleasing package. Much like my discovery of My Chemical Romance opening up for The Used back in the year 2002, it’s hard to describe the feeling of when you know that a band has that “it” factor. Enter Sarah and the Safe Word, who have crafted their sophomore record called Good Gracious! Bad People that has a blend of Panic! At the Disco theatrics, My Chemical Romance thematic elements, and the Gothic cabaret of the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack. The sextet band from Atlanta, Georgia appear poised to take the next dramatic leap into the limelight as their new record delivers all over the board.
Sarah and the Safe Word set the stage of inviting everyone into their world with the introductory song, “Welcome to Winterwood” that features a harpsichord perfectly in tune to the electric guitar parts to make for a strong opening statement of the madness that ensues. “You’re All Scotch, No Soda” follows the brief opener with some breakneck start-and-stop hooks reminiscent of MCR’s “House of Wolves.” With plenty of theatrical elements to paint with the broad, dark strokes of showmanship along the way, the band has no trouble grabbing the listeners’ attention from the get-go.
The first single released from the LP, “The Last Great Sweetheart of the Grand Electric Rodeo” does a good job of encapsulating everything that this band is capable of creating when they are firing on all creative cylinders. Imagine a goth version of Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and you’ve got Sarah and the Safe Word’s lead single from the album. Lead vocalist, Sarah Rose commands the track with pompous flair and never strays far from the band’s mission of “creating spooky music that we love.”
Apart from being an impressive tribute to Panic! and MCR styles, the band has plenty of new musical elements to offer from their own accord. Songs like “Sick on Seventh Street” find the band experimenting with cabaret styles in order to spread their message of hope in the darkest of times. Other electric guitar-charged songs like “When Oskar Fische Comes to Town” rock with a profound purpose as they bring the darkness into the forefront of our imagination with plenty of accomplished musicianship to boot.
”Bottom of a Bender” is as close as the band gets to their trademark song that sets them apart from the bands they are clearly influenced by, as they blend in some screamo and hardcore elements to make for the perfect Halloween soundtrack for the next generation.
Other songs like “Disobedient” rocks like NIN mixed with some Marilyn Manson moments of despair, only for the band’s true message to come breaking through at the end. It’s like a sliver of sunshine breaking through the storm to show that things can get better over time.
By the time you reach the album closer of “The Bonnie Dell House,” you may be left wondering why this band has been hiding from the forefront of your music rotation. By blending so many rich musical styles and themes into their message of acceptance, the band have created some delightfully spooky tunes that demand to be played at the loudest of volumes. By making perfectly timed Gothic emo rock mixed in with the theatrics of the Rocky Horror Picture Show musical, Sarah and the Safe Word have crafted the quintessential soundtrack for Halloween for the foreseeable future.