Review Summary: The Promise Ring’s Midwestern, guitar driven Pop Punk may be at its best on Nothing Feels Good, but Very Emergency is just as solid.
The Promise Ring, along with other seminal Midwestern bands, is a perfect precursor to what those who don’t know better call Emo today, a much more underground preview of the big things to come. The hardcore influence, the punchy guitar, the catchy vocals, the emotion, it’s all there. Still, there is no mistaking the fact that The Promise Ring sounds little like Fall Out Boy and their peers. They’re more, you know, manly. They’re heavier and they’re a bit more respected. Davey von Bohlen’s sorta raspy, sorta growly, still really melodic singing is leaps and bounds away from Pat Stump’s effeminate whines, but it’s obvious the influence is there.
, as an album, is a bit of a departure from Nothing Feels Good
, The Promise Ring’s breakthrough album and what is widely considered their best work. Very Emergency brings out the more tuneful, poppy aspects of Nothing Feels Good. It’s still a raw record, as a whole, but songs like mid-album ballad Things Just Getting Good
, which, at 4:45, is pushing too long, would have had no place on Nothing Feels Good. First single Emergency! Emergency!
combines the dry Punk of Feels Good with a spectacularly catchy chorus and equally infectious lead guitar riff. The results are good. Emergency!, which finds von Bohlen playing a guy afraid of losing his girlfriend (”Sometimes I wake up early to say goodbye/just in case you don't come back”
, is a definite album highlight.
von Bohlen, as frontman, is the main focus of The Promise Ring’s music. He manages to ooze emotion without ever letting out a scream, never breaking form, relying mainly on his lyrics to convey his sentiments. Of course, with lyrics like those found on Arms and Danger
, figuring out those sentiments is going to be quite difficult (choice lyric: “I was born in 1968 to replace Bobby Kennedy, and I don't know how it all might go”
). On All of My Everythings
, the former Cap’n Jazz guitarist laments a lost girlfriend, amidst bits of nostalgia and metaphors through lines like “Wherever you are, dialing up friends on someone else's telephone/In someone else's home/Why did ever we part and give back our hands”
. The track is another ballad-esque tune, the guitars remain undistorted the most part, and another long one, barely breaking the five minute mark before fading out.
There’s just the right amount of change between this record and its predecessor: it’s a noticeable difference, but nothing big enough to truly mess with the Promise Ring’s well loved formula. First track Happiness is All the Rage
, the rawest, most ‘Punk’ track on the album, eases the listener into whatever change has taken place during the year plus it took to write/record Emergency. Overall, The Promise Ring’s Midwestern, mid-tempo, guitar driven Pop Punk may be at its best on Nothing Feels Good, but Very Emergency is just as solid.