Review Summary: The Promise Ring's "Nothing Feels Good" is easy to swallow. It's a fine production focused on catchy beats and rhythms over unique musicianship.
Emo sucks! God, it’s been a while since I said that and meant it, but even then I didn’t know what it really meant. Hell, I don’t even have a firm grasp on what it means today, but I can tell you what I thought emo was during my period of musical immaturity. I thought
Emo was the antithesis of Punk; it seemed like an attitude for the depressed, whiny, and spoiled suburbanites of the world driven by the crappy music they heard. I still don’t like
Emo, but I respect the music that falls within its vague jurisdiction. It’s more than what I took it at face value, and I completely missed the point of the music. Now I’m at my discovery stage, one that I am meeting with strong resistance, but this time with an open mind.
My latest discovery occurred because I was led to The Promise Ring’s Nothing Feels Good
, their third release on Jade Tree records dating back to 1997. The album is surprisingly easy to swallow as I expected a very monotonous effort thanks to my ingrained misconceptions. To be resentfully honest, Nothing Feels Good
feels just fine. In fact, it’s more than fine; it’s a fun record that encourages a joyous setting, giving a pleasant atmosphere with only minor hints of anxiety. It focuses on receiving a positive emotional response from the listener by providing very elastic rhythms and vocal backgrounds. The vocals play off of one another on the opener “Is This Thing On"” and stay just short of annoying moans throughout the rest of the album, making them acceptable at least and enjoyable at best.
Other musical elements on the album are not necessarily mesmerizing, but they have a special allure for being catchy and simple. Whether it’s the light guitar work on “Make Me a Chevy” or the looping verse structure on the title track, there is beauty in the simplicity and the repetition. The album has a very balanced feel, with enough variety in the tracks to offset equilibrium but enough of a personality to maintain an image. The interlude on “How Nothing Feels” is the bridge between a light, smooth song and a dance number that swirls like a washing machine. Its simplistic approach is welcome because of its cheery sincerity.
I cannot say that I’ll be getting more albums that have stemmed from Nothing Feels Good
, but I can say that the album revealed to me that Emo is something far from my misunderstanding. With every song, I felt more convinced that The Promise Ring had something going with their music. My pent-up childish emotions were torn from my mind and were replaced by the sound of a relaxed tone that expressed concern. It’s not so bad after all. Punk’s still better!