Emarosa
Versus


4.5
superb

Review

by Alex Dansereau USER (10 Reviews)
September 1st, 2014 | 53 replies


Release Date: 09/09/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Emarosa vs. expectations

Change is never easy, especially when a group or individual is seemingly successful in their current venture. For post hardcore outfit Emarosa, who had released two successful albums in 2008 and 2010, it would seem that future success would come from following the formula they had already established: continue putting out albums of melodic, alternative-leaning post hardcore, centered around the vocal stylings of their erratic yet talented lead singer, Jonny Craig. Yet in early 2011, after a series of scandals involving their frontman’s worsening addiction, the band was at a crossroads. Stand behind the man who had helped propel them to greater popularity, regardless of the ramifications, or start fresh? Ultimately, Emarosa decided that they had had enough, and let Craig go. However, the process of finding a new vocalist that fit the band’s sound proved to be far more difficult than the band initially expected, and it would be more than three years before the band finally completed their new record, Versus. Along the way, they auditioned many different vocalists with a variety of sounds… but early in the process, they found something special in the form of Bradley Walden, of Michigan-based Squid the Whale. His classic soul-leaning vocals provided something new to the band, without straying too far from their previous sound, and the band immediately offered him the position. However, Walden initially turned the band down, and it wouldn’t be until he left Squid the Whale in 2013 that the moment finally arose for him to take his place in one of his favorite bands.

Yet don’t be fooled, Walden’s presence is far from the only thing that has changed on Versus. Along with the band’s new frontman comes several changes to their sound, as they move away from post hardcore into a more soulful, alternative rock direction. The band eases the listener in to their new sound on opening track “People Like Me, We Just Don’t Play”. On both of Emarosa’s previous full-lengths, Relativity and 2010’s self titled effort, the opening track was a standout, but also a benchmark for the rest of the album, a lead-in to the sound that would define the rest of the listening experience. On this, easily the band’s most diverse record, the opener hews closer to the band’s post hardcore roots, opening with a burst of energy while still highlighting the band’s improved songwriting prowess. In one of the album’s standout moments, Walden begins the second verse in a similar manner to the first before - in a seeming burst of spontaneity that feels completely natural - saying “ah, fuck it” as the song shifts gears into a particularly intense passage. It is this feeling of improvisation, a feeling that the band is constantly on the edge of different styles and musical motifs, that makes Versus such a fascinating and enjoyable listen.

This sense of adventure and experimentation continues throughout the record’s 11 tracks, as they quickly discard much of their old post hardcore slant to explore a broader rock and pop palate. Nowhere is this more successful than on the album’s first slow jam, “I’ll Just Wait”. Over a mellow guitar line reminiscent of Blue October and U2, Walden croons of love lost and mistakes made before the song builds into a simple yet poignant chorus:

Are you happy? Are you happier?
Yeah, you know me
All the years I’ve been around
And the fears that you found out
But I’m still waiting

This is one of many standout moments that bury themselves deep in the listener’s consciousness, due to both their catchiness and emotional impact. This is present on the album’s other slow cuts, “Say Hello to the Bad Guy” and “Same Tight Rope”, as well as the bluesy “A Hundred Crowns” and the album’s closing track “1996 On Bevard”, with a powerful hook that will have music fans of all stripes singing along. Brian McTernan’s production unifies the record’s diverse elements, making Versus work well as a full listening experience and as a collection of great individual tracks. While the album could occasionally use an extra shot of energy in its slower moments, strong songwriting and a greater balance between the vocals and instrumentation shines throughout. On Versus, Emarosa have not only proven that they are more than one frontman, but that the right frontman pushes them further as a band. Those expecting a sequel to Relativity or the self-titled album may walk away disappointed, but if listeners are willing to put their expectations aside, they will see the record for what it is: a fantastic collection of music from a group many had written off. This album exudes potential, and it will be fascinating to see where the band’s new-found confidence takes them next.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
beachdude42
September 1st 2014


214 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This isn't an album that can be judged by its singles, most of the best songs are the ones that try new things. Stream the record here:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLKcGEIO7V0rWt3tviaBCnCOid_DonovFh

Digging: Hands Like Houses - Reimagine

Calc
September 1st 2014


12190 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

blehhhhhh album.

Digging: Jizue - Shiori

trackbytrackreviews
September 1st 2014


1061 Comments


No I Still Feel Her Pt. 5?

DropdeadWHA
September 1st 2014


602 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Their best album by far, higher than a 3.5, near a 4 but not quite sureeee.

beachdude42
September 1st 2014


214 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

No I Still Feel Her Pt. 5?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcemzN0eY0U

trackbytrackreviews
September 1st 2014


1061 Comments


That's fucking terrible

beachdude42
September 1st 2014


214 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

That's fucking terrible

I know haha I can't stand his new solo stuff

Muisc4Life26
September 1st 2014


2679 Comments


great review dude

TheSpirit
September 1st 2014


17833 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is honestly better than anything they could have put out with Jonny, and puts the Slaves album to shame. You can hear how Bradley was influenced by Jonny, but his note choices are super refreshing. The tame(d) instrumentation really fits the vocals as well.

Digging: Arizmenda - Stillbirth in the Temple of Venus

mazalthan
September 1st 2014


5 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

@TheSpirit That is actually a great point, as much as Bradley/Jonny may share a similar range and soulful vocal style... Bradley's delivery comes off super fresh.

Digging: Manchester Orchestra - Hope

chesse13
September 2nd 2014


3151 Comments


not sure how i feel about this

Digging: iamthemorning - Belighted

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
September 2nd 2014


50375 Comments


band died like 8 years ago

Digging: Viper the Rapper - You'll Cowards Don't Even Smoke Crack

Speed512
September 2nd 2014


134 Comments


HOLY FUCK THIS IS ACTUALLY REALLY GOOD WTF

MrMatt767
September 2nd 2014


193 Comments


nice review dude

thelastsignal
September 2nd 2014


1369 Comments


Can't wait to listen to this. Awesome review per usual, dude. I have heard a few singles off this and they were okay, but still very interested in hearing the whole thing. I loved the self-titled album, so I'm sure that I will dig this.

chesse13
September 2nd 2014


3151 Comments


this just bored me. i didn't even make it through the whole thing

thelastsignal
September 2nd 2014


1369 Comments


What did you think of the self-titled, chesse?

chesse13
September 2nd 2014


3151 Comments


everything this band has done just boresss me

Sauce
September 2nd 2014


692 Comments


this is so much better than before.

Dreakon
September 2nd 2014


361 Comments


Was pretty underwhelmed hearing that one song they put out. Listening to the stream though, I feel like it'll be a grower. Took two or three listens to get the ball rolling, but I'm really digging "1996 On Bevard" now at least.



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