Review Summary: Minus a few flaws, We Are the Emergency looks to be the real deal with this release.
We are the Emergency look like becoming a solid Australian post-hardcore staple in future years. If this debut is anything to go by, it’s that this band has the songwriting ability and instrumental prowess to pull off something great. It’s not hard to see what We Are the Emergency (WATE) are going for here; vocalist and rhythm guitarist James Harris takes a lot of his vocal stylings from Emery frontman Devin Shelton, and the sound for most of the album is largely pop hooks with progressive leads, in the vain of Circa Survive, Saosin and The Dear Hunter. WATE does well writing some infectious guitar leads over a consistent rhythm section, however WATE doesn’t pull it off as well as some as some of the aforementioned bands. This record does have the tendency to get a bit cluttered and pretentious, with 3 vocalists (the 3rd being pianist Sophie Rodgers) and throwing in a lot hand claps, production effects and group vocals (for example on ‘My Conscious Is the Only One Who Gets Me’, and ‘Ink Well Paper Stains’).
WATE throw in a lot of variation with this release, and manages to stay fresh and interesting for its 48 minute length. Screams are thrown up occasionally, however thoughts on the screamer’s ability can be quite polaristic. Whilst to the majority it’s great, he gets a lot of criticism in the same way Atreyu’s Alex Vartakas gets, in that it is screechy and off-putting. Otherwise he spends most of his time singing, and whilst he has a decent clean range, a majority of the songs feel a little watered down, and are aching for some screams or a heavier interlude. His vocals also lack a little character; it’s a bit hard distinguishing his voice from the other two vocalists.
There are some forgetful moments as well. The first ballad of the album, ‘Ewe-Knee-Verse’, could have easily been left of the record, where it’s not hard who the target audience is, and just sounds weak. The other ballad, ‘When Everything is Done’ follows along in a similar suite, instantly forgettable, and boasts some really awful corny lines such as ‘stealing stars out of the sky, tracing constellations’. Coupled with the extremely underwhelming closer ‘My Conscience is the Only One Who Gets Me’ the album just plods off, on a sour note. The lyrics are a bit of hit and miss, for example lines like ‘take my hand, lead the way from here,’ are cringe worthy however there are few jems, such as ‘It’s like I’m watching myself when I’m with you’. Would you believe those lines are both on the same song.
The guitarist leads, while interesting, slide by with no real noticeable aspects, much in a way a band like Emarosa does. The lead guitarist has a definitive capacity to capture your attention, for example the interplay with Sophie Rodgers, the bands keyboardist, in the jazz interlude at the end of ‘Ink Well Paper Stains', is just sex. The opening riff of ‘It’s a Floating Wicker Propelled by Fire’ is also demonstrative of his ability to write simple, interesting guitar arrangements. However, he slips too many times into submissive leads, writing to just happen to be there, but not attention grabbing.
Although it feels like a waterdowned version of any other post-hardcore act, it’s still worth a listen. The sound demonstrated here hints at an abundance of skill, yet a let down in arrangements hides this from emerging in their sound. The album has its moments, and comes across a lot as hit and miss. If We Are the Emergency rectifies these flaws in their sound, future releases shape to be extremely promising.
If A Tree Could Drop Its Leaves.
It’s a Floating Wicker Propelled by Fire.
Between the Places we Belong.