Review Summary: A more thoughtful approach to songwriting, this is a band that has come a long way since their heavier days.
I've been a fan of Emarosa for quite some time now. Originally playing a typical style of post hardcore, innovatively fused with keys and synths, this is a band that has come a long way since their early days. Ditching their vocalist and their heavier style for an alternative rock sound on their debut record was a bold move, but it seems to have paid off. This is their second album with new vocalist Jonny Craig, and it appears the band has finally settled into their groove. This self-titled release sees them continuing in a similar vein of their previous album, fusing their unique variety of post hardcore and alternative rock, married with Craig's magical R&B and soul vocal stylings.
If you've dabbled in the slightly more alternative and experimental side of post-hardcore you've probably heard of Jonny Craig. Although he's been the source of more drama than a soap opera, and has the maturity levels of a spoilt six year old, he makes up for this in his singing, and his voice is at the forefront of this album for a very good reason. In a genre of music which is overpopulated with whiny high pitched frontmen, Craig is a welcome breath of fresh air, with his style of singing suiting the music surprisingly well. On top of his incredible vocal range, he has a talent for singing his lines with such emotion, a good example of which is in the song "Broken Vs. The Way We Were Born". The instrumentation in the track is certainly solid, but it's Craig's voice that makes this track stand out, and his ability to swiftly shift from a soft soulful croon to raw passionate cries. The self-centered lyrics are hardly noticeable, as you let the sound of his voice wash over you.
As far as the instrumentation goes, the rest of the band has also come a long way in the two years since their last release, 'Relativity'. The guitars are constantly exploring new themes and ideas, and the production is crisp and clean. However it's often hard to hear keys beneath everything else, and the bass is barely audible. Perhaps to target a more mainstream audience, Emarosa has ditched the experimental, wandering song structures found in their debut, and gone for a more typical verse chorus formula. It still works though; with "A Toast To The Future Kids", being a notable example of how a transition to a more refined song writing style has paid off. Beginning with a clean strummed introduction and soft vocals, it builds into a verse with scattering, funky drums and onto a powerful and rocking chorus.
"Pretend. Relive. Regret" is another winner from the album. Playing out in a similar vein to "Broken Vs. The Way We Were Played", it features a catchy verse which seems to hint at the greater things to come, and greater things certainly do emerge. Emarosa has a knack for writing memorable hooks, and while their previous album featured various ideas scattered all over the place, most of the songs on this record come home strong with a killer chorus; the band at full intensity. My only criticism of the album is that there is only so much of it you can listen to at one time. It's one of those things that are better in small doses. The band made a wise decision in capping the album at ten songs, but even then it's not an album you'd put on and listen to from start to finish, as it starts to sound all the same. It has more of a place on random shuffle, where hearing a single song between other artists on your music player will blow you away.
It was a disappointment the lack of keys featured in this album. On the band's first EP, Jordan Stewart's keys were very much front and center, but since the change in sound they've provided more of a backing role, with organs and synths, rather than creating a melody of their own as they did in the debut EP. I was really hoping for a keyboard focused song in this album to let Jordan stretch his legs, but I guess I'm going to have to wait until next time. At the time of writing this review however, Jonny Craig has left the band, and is yet to be replaced. What this means for the future of the band is uncertain, but Emarosa has always been a band that adapts to change well, so I'm sure we'll hear from them very soon in the future and I look forward to discovering wherever their musical careers progress to next.
A Toast To The Future Kids
Broken Vs. The Way We Were Born