A Shipwreck in the Sand is the fourth studio album by Canadian post-hardcore band, Silverstein, released March 31, 2009 through Victory. For A Shipwreck in the Sand, Silverstein returned to Discovering the Waterfront producer Cameron Webb, after being disappointed with the recording process of their previous album, Arrivals & Departures. On January 29, they released the track listing along with the album cover for the new album, as well as an accompanying story to the album's concept. On March 5 and on March 13, they also posted a clip of "Born Dead." On March 23, the full album was uploaded for streaming over MySpace Music.
A demo version of "Broken Stars" had been streamed by the band on their MySpace profile in late 2008, and the song extensively performed on their U.S. tour then. On March 17 they shot a music video for the first single "Vices" with director Robby Starbuck. Robby Starbuck also directed their video for American Dream, released on May 18, 2010.
The album features conceptual storyline, written by lead vocalist Shane Told. Prior to the release of the album, an official album website was revealed, which told the tale of a vessel which set sail to find resources, and begin a new world, but when no new land is to be found, the crew revolts and turns against their captain.
As time passed by, there was no new land to be found. As the days grew shorter, and the nights grew longer and colder, the crew became more and more skeptical about the captain's vision. Originally passionate and committed, true and faithful, they now began to revolt.
The website also carried the tagline, "Betrayal. Arson. Infidelity. True Love.". Upon release of the album, it was revealed the story of the ship and its captain was just a metaphor of betrayal, similar to that faced by the protagonist in the main storyline.
The primary focus of the narrative throughout the album is of a man who discovers his partner is cheating on him with his best friend ("Vices"), and his dreams of a happy life with her are to be extinguished ("American Dream") as she intends to leave him for his best friend. He confronts his best friend ("I Knew I Couldn't Trust You"), before setting his and his partner's house on fire, ("I Am The Arsonist") with his partner and daughter still inside. As he still loves them, he cannot leave them to burn, so he saves them from the burning house ("A Great Fire") and subsequently faces court for his crime, where his partner accuses him of insanity and wins custody of their daughter ("We Are Not The World"). With a lack of evidence to prove he burnt down the house however, the courts have no option but to release him until the next day, so he drives away to sleep at a motel. Realizing he can't live without them, and faced with a lengthy prison sentence he ends up taking his own life in the motel room. ("A Hero Loses Everyday" and "The End"). Many lyrics reinforce this concept, such as;
"You can't see me behind the door, I just heard everything you said." taken from "Vices"
"You call him, you're saying all these things you used to say to me." taken from "Vices"
"How could you do this? My best friend with my bride" taken from "I Am The Arsonist"
"They'll see your fire through the dark night sky... I hope you're home when I arrive" taken from "I Am The Arsonist"
"I can see through the flames that the fire cleanses me" taken from "A Great Fire"
"And now you've taken her away" from "We Are Not The World"
"Dead, lying all alone on this motel room floor, I know I'm dying" from "A Hero Loses Everyday"
"I didn't want to save you. I set our house on fire to watch it burn. But I couldn't just leave you there" from "The End"
Alongside the main storyline, some songs tackle individual issues, such as "Born Dead", which talks about the problems with the American health system. "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." The track, "We Are Not The World" attacks the government and the problems of war.
The concept of the record "The Shipwreck In The Sand" is complicated, and there's a lot of stuff going on. And I like that about it, that it is not obvious and that a lot of people can take something out of it that's their own. The reason I wanted to do a concept record was because of the way the world is right now, with the economy being messed up, people losing jobs and families losing their life savings, and not knowing what they are going to do in the future. Ten years ago, everything was going so well, people were not as concerned and now it's a really scary time.
There's a lot of underlying political issues within the record about what governments all over the world are spending money on, what their focus is on. There's also a lot of social issues I wanted to talk about as well; people that watch reality TV and think Cribs is the way their house needs to look or they need to look like people from a Cosmopolitan magazine. There's just so many problems that face society right now and I really wanted to tackle them all. Each song just dives into a different issue; you know the issue of health care right now in America, and how it's so divided when it should be so obvious.
Some versions of the album contained a bonus DVD. It featured the music videos for "Still Dreaming" and "If You Could See into My Soul", along with "Behind The Scenes of Still Dreaming" and "Soul Tour Montage", which was a collection of videos from Silverstein on tour to the song "If You Could See into My Soul". It also contained a gallery of black and white studio photographs, taken by Brooks Reynolds. However the main feature of the DVD is a 43 minute long behind the scenes, for the making of the album. It contains interviews of the band along with studio footage. The camera work was done by band member Josh Bradford, and the DVD was edited by Eric Richter, Mark Smith, Sean Sutton and Kenton Quatman.
Daniel Thompson of Music Emissions suggested the album "may very well be the band's best album to date", and praised the diversity of musical styles present on the album, however criticized the repetitiveness of the lyrics stating, "it gets annoying hearing about the same thing in every song". Michael Roberts from Sputnikmusic wrote that the album contains "conceptual, musical and lyrical faults" but praised the band's "superb combination of heavy and melodic sections, improved song construction and memorable hooks" and dubbed the album "a strong release from the Canadian quintet". Drew Beringer of AbsolutePunk also gave a mainly positive review, calling it an "enjoyable, catchy album that digs deeper than most bands in its genre", giving the album an overall rating of 77% and saying although "musically, the album doesn’t implement a new sound or direction" it is "a refinement and polishing of the things the band has tried over the years".