In the world of music, change is very much a double-edged sword. Remain stagnant and overly comfortable, and face the risk of being accused of lacking the ability to progress and becoming a bore. Make some notable changes, and face the potential claims of being a “sell out”, losing some fans, and the all too familiar “your last album was better.” One band who have had more than their fair share of change over the past few years are Kentucky’s Emarosa.
Following the departure of Jonny Craig in 2011, the band took some downtime, some members working at Jimmy John’s to keep themselves afloat instead of crowdfunding, auditioning new vocalists, and waiting for things to click again. Come 2014, Bradley Walden (ex-Squid The Whale) is a permanent fixture, and third record ‘Versus’ proved that they had more than enough fight left in them yet. Admittedly, it shows some evidence of the band still finding their feet, but latest effort ‘131’ sees in the new era of Emarosa with flying colours.
The band are totally reformed, revitalised, and ready to stand atop their peers once more. Any trace of being tagged as post-hardcore has now completely been removed, now opting for a mainly alt rock style sonically with huge dashes of soul and blues splashed across the canvas.
One of the things that really helps ‘131’ to shine through the pack is the sincere emotion and relatable nature within some of the lyrics and topics covered here. Walden pours his heart out on ‘Porcelain’, a song about his wife Amy Meeko (who also features on ‘Never’), portrays genuine pain of life on the road away from his partner in album opener ‘Hurt’, and touches on the delicate subject of their tragic miscarriage on ‘Sure’. It’s all very human, and it pulls you in so much more for it.
Lead single ‘Cloud 9’ brings a choir into the mix of a welcomed chart botherer, ‘One Car Garage’ and ‘Miracle’ champion the alt rock motif, the one-two of ‘Young Lonely’ and ‘Blue’ sees Walden and guitarists ER White and Marcellus Wallace marry one another in an equally majestic and raucous fashion, and ‘Helpless’ is a respectable nod to Michael Jackson. It’s full of conviction and confidence from the first note right until the last.
At times it’s ‘Songs About Jane’ era Maroon 5 but with more balls, at times it’s ‘House Of Balloons’ era The Weeknd (who there’s a possible reference to in ‘Porcelain’) but with a more rock focused setup, and at other times it’s the pop-rock hooks of current Bring Me The Horizon meeting with the soul, substance and sadness of Adele. What ‘131’ is for its full duration is as a body of work Emarosa‘s best. This is the Emarosa of now, the dust of the past completely shaken off, and prepared to dominate once more.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)