For three albums, Silverstein singer and chief songwriter Shane Told was all about love and romance. That approach reached its apex on 2007's Arrivals & Departures. The Canadian post-hardcore group's third album chronicled the end of Told's long-term relationship.
But those looking for love on the current Silverstein album, A Shipwreck in the Sand, will be looking in the wrong place.
"I'm over the seven-year relationship that was all over that last record," Told says. "I've moved on and I'm happier now, and I'm more together, I guess. Now with the world the way it is, I felt like there was a lot I had to say about that."
Faced with finding a new source of inspiration for A Shipwreck in the Sand, Told turned to the economic crisis and its ramifications that have impacted so many people.
The album's thematic through-line concerns a family and the problems its members face, although the story is not as simple or linear as that description might suggest. The device enables Told to comment not only on economic hardships, but other issues of the day such as military spending and health care reform.
"The protagonist of the story is sick, terminally ill, and can't get health care," says Told. "That's a big reason for the problems that he's facing in his life."
While the current album's lyrical direction is different, the music will sound familiar. The group — which also includes guitarists Neil Boshart and Josh Bradford, drummer Paul Koehler and bassist Bill Hamilton — falls back on the trademarks of its early albums: Told's impassioned vocals alternate between full-on screams and melodic interludes, backed by the hard-charging guitars and energetic rhythms the band's become known for.
Silverstein even connected with its past by reuniting with Cameron Webb, who produced the group's second album, Discovering the Waterfront, back in 2005. Arrivals & Departures was produced by Mark Trombino, the former Drive Like Jehu drummer who went on to produce Blink-182 and the Audition.
"Mark Trombino was kind of our dream producer," says Told, who was surprised the album didn't fare better. "I thought Arrivals & Departures was a pretty solid record, but kids weren't as into that record as they were Discovering the Waterfront, for whatever reason."
The rawer energy of A Shipwreck in the Sand seems to have re-energized the band and its fanbase. Meanwhile, a decade after starting the band, Told's more outwardly directed lyrical focus has brought it greater depth and maturity.
"I come from a middle-class family, and my dad worked at the same company for 30 years," he says. "He worked at DuPont, and he worked his way up from being a summer student, and he put all of his money into savings and into the stock market and into his own company stock, and you've seen how that turned out.
"I've watched my retired parents start to really struggle, which I think is something that's happening all across the world right now.
"It's scary. Everyone thinks you've got these blue-chip stocks and you're going to be OK. And you're not."