Review Summary: Criminally underrated? No longer.
Some albums fall by the wayside, for varied reasons. Texas is the Reason's debut--and only--was released in 1996, to relatively no attention at all, and Texas is the Reason broke up in 1997, a brief but tumultuous year after their debut, which is either a blessing or a tragedy. Did they break up before they created their own London Calling? Or did their brief period of greatness shine too brightly to last? The band members moved on to other random projects, previous band largely forgotten. Texas is the Reason's debut had certainly fallen by the wayside, to be washed and eroded away to obscurity.
Funny how things work out.
Members of Texas is the Reason were happily exploring other projects when--suddenly--their largely forgotten little record starting getting some critical press. The emo scene was beginning to expand in the early 2000's, with bands such as Jimmy Eat World and Dashboard Confessional offering a more emotionally powerful alternative to the schlock fed to the mainstream by stagnant pop-punk or post-grunge bands such as Nickelback and Blink-182. By 2006, emo had become a rather loose term, as millions of generic pop-punks were donning black eyeliner and faux-singing emotional lyrics in fake attempts to become the next big modern rock thing. In this year, Texas is the Reason reunited to sell-out crowds at New York's famous Irving Plaza. Texas is the Reason had no longer fallen by the wayside.
Despite being completely influential to the current emo scene, Do You Know Who You Are?--famously named after the last words John Lennon apparently said--is nothing like these bands' albums. Do You Know Who You Are? is both melodious and heavy; fast and slow, angsty while managing to be positive at the same time. The album flows together exactly like a great album
should. Sure, the upbeat, nearly poppy "Johnny On the Spot" works very well on its own, but it’s the way it flows into the slower and more emotional "The Magic Bullet Theory" is what makes the album work better together than, say, a Fall Out Boy album.
Now on to a little more in-depth information on the songs: the title track is a beautiful, yet wistfully haunting three-minute instrumental, with a technical riff that keeps on your toes, waiting for the inevitable roar of booming guitars and chugging drums. The next song, "Back to the Left", perfectly delivers, being sugarcoated-poppy yet heavy at the same time, and striking a personal emotional chord with me that you rarely find on the new AFI album. Some songs, such as "Something to Forget", don't manage to hold their allotted time, but Do You Know Who You Are? always manages to catch itself back up with nearly flawless tracks such as the dark, bass-heavy closer "Jack With One Eye", as vocalist Garrett Khaln's vocals perfectly wobble with sheer emotion against the downtuned, dreary guitars and stagnant drums.
Texas is the Reason has managed to not fall irrelevant, mostly due to the expansion and commercialization of the scene around them. Despite once being forgotten, Do You Know Who You Are? has risen to a status of a classic emo album, joining Sunny Day Real Estate's Diary and The Promise Ring's Nothing Feels Good as 90s emo records that silently influenced a generation. But it's time for that influence to be silent no more; as Texas is the Reason has definitely not fallen by the wayside.