Review Summary: A pleasant if sometimes forgettable debut.
After two EPs and a split with fellow Charlotte natives Placeholder, emo trio Jail Socks have released their debut full-length Coming Down
. While their previous efforts were heavily influenced by twinkly Midwest emo riffage, Coming Down
sees the group moving away from strict Kinsella-core. The band maintain their trademark math-rock noodling while incorporating power pop, pop-punk, and sensitive balladry. The result is something of a mixed bag.
The best songs on Coming Down
are built around strong hooks: the riffy, defiant chorus of “Spinning”, the climactic bridge of opener “Caving In", singer Aidan Yoh lamenting his life’s stasis in the chorus of “On the Run”. In these moments, the band’s earnestness and energy and dynamic playing cohere into the catharsis for which great emo music strives. The real issue with Coming Down
is that, to my ears at least, these moments come too rarely. Tracks like “Losing Everything”, a mid-tempo power-pop tune, and “No Ground”, a kind of pop-punk/post-hardcore hybrid, feel pretty perfunctory. They’re absolutely serviceable songs, but they are treading ground that’s been trod many times before.
It’s the two ballads, “Pale Blue Light” and “More Than This”, that really feel like the low points of the album. I feel bad singling out these two tracks, as they deal with some pretty personal feelings of heartbreak, self-loathing, and grief, but it does feel pretty damning of the songwriting and production that songs focused on such inherently emotional subject matter leave me so cold. They feel flat, inert, bland. Skippable, in a word.
ultimately leaves me feeling pretty ambivalent. It’s a record with some real pleasures, but for a pop-punk record, I don’t walk away from the album singing too many hooks, and for an emo record, I don’t find myself feeling moved all that often. Still, given the band’s penchant for incorporating various emo influences, I remain optimistic that Coming Down
is the set up for much better things to come from Jail Socks.