Review Summary: a mindless defence of "emo" and good music
it looks sad. isn’t emo, nor does frontman jimmy turner want it to be. and for good reason. for one, the scene isn’t what it used to be: neither in terms of sound, nor social atmosphere. with the recent rise in callout culture destroying (for better or worse) bands with once huge influences, the denunciation of a scene whose misgivings now far outweigh the prevelance of “classic” albums being put out makes more sense than ever. earlier this year, mccafferty’s nick hartkop opted out for similar reasons, though in that case the claimed “toxicity” stemmed largely from the frontman’s own missteps, and as a reaction to them, deserved or otherwise. on the other hand, if it looks sad.’s twitter feed is any indication, turner would rather have as much distance from hartkop as possible – or, more (or less) to the extreme, from the likes of bands like pinegrove. “who is paying pitchfork and other publications money to keep posting about bands/artists that do ***ty things"” turner last week mused, a statement that couldn’t have been clearer had it said “*** pitchfork”, “*** pinegrove”, and “*** this ***ing scene”.
fair, i think, whether i agree or not. redemption matters where appropriate, but i digress: it looks sad. isn’t emo. for one, because it’s members reject the label so forcefully and so often that it’d be disrespectful to attribute it to them any longer; and two, because it isn’t something they’d ever wanted or intended for their music. in the bandcamp description of the band’s self-titled ep, the influences listed include the likes of surfer blood and beach fossils – two bands that see far less of the emo classification, and more often that of indie- and beach-pop. by all means, then, it looks sad. are only coincidentally emo. yet, in discussing this ep, the most direct point of comparison that comes to mind is that of turnover – a band whose emo past continued to dictate them well into their (once more) indie-rock/beach-pop future. and similarly, the manner in which turner throws his voice about on opener ‘radical’ and closer ‘ocean’ is uncannily resemblant of much of the current emo/indie-rock scene, particularly when the instrumental swells on the backend of the latter track and turner wails, “don’t know if its chemicals / but your voice, it doesn’t leave my bones”. i’m reminded of tigers jaw, and the laziness of adam mcilwee’s drawl, particularly on the darker moments of charmer. because who said emo couldn’t be serious" (was it not founded on such angst self-seriousness") and who said seriousness needed an air of the immature to be classed emo. but now i’m getting defensive:
ocean is, truly, a marvel. upon reaching the above mentioned climax, it shifts gears once more. the toms, till then neglected, receive a groovy pounding as the some of the ep’s fuzzier guitars let loose and gyrate amongst one another – interweaving their melodies, threading themselves seamlessly through simple, but immaculate production. “i am your ocean”, cuts turner, and the ep ends. and suddenly, none of this emo bull*** matters. it is emo; it isn’t. it doesn’t matter. on the one hand, i understand: genre tags can be restrictive, particularly in an era of global scenes and spotify playlists. but then, i want to be defensive, because emo can be good, and often is. and i suppose the synthesis is it doesn’t matter. it’s not that context doesn’t matter, nor that classification isn’t valuable – it’s just that, it should be secondary. it should help me and you describe good music to a species who find comfort in the familiar, and music should be able to enjoyed for the sake of music.