First Impressions: Emery – We Do What We Want
February 19, 2011Posted by on
Honestly, couldn’t we easily have a ten minute conversation just about the album art and the album title, with all their possible implications and emotional attachments, without even blinking? I think we could. With Emery’s history of mixing emotional dual harmonies with the occasional screams in accordance with lyrics that cut to the heart, the band could really go in a lot of ways that wouldn’t really surprise me. With that, I received this album with the backdrop of having heard for months that this would be their “heaviest” album to date (propelled by their addition to the Solid State family) and not really sure what that would mean in all practicality. I’d heard everything from this being a metalcore album (it’s not) to it being like a heavy version of “The Question” (that’s more than questionable). What do we really get? We get Emery being Emery, combining the sounds that they have come up with on previous efforts and mixing them up however they seem fit, with the reality of chaos worthy of a Showbread record if Josh Dies had golden pipes.
We Do What We Want starts off similarly to In Shallow Seas We Sail with the classic scream/sing “The Cheval Glass” and the follow-up “Scissors” falls into the same category and shows off their new found love for excessive double kick drums that really make one wonder if they do indeed have a little bit of metalcore in them. Yet, even in the midst of such thoughts, Toby Morrell’s vocals still shine through and distinguish them from the crowd. The screams in “The Anchors” reminds me at moments of early Take It Back! and by this time it does seem apparent that we are indeed seeing a harder Emery, but with enough elements of what we’d seen before for it to not really be a shock to the system, especially since there are so many breaks in continuity throughout the album to get too stuck in a moment.
The first song that we heard when things started coming out was a radio version of “The Curse of Perfect Days” and the full version isn’t quite as poppy as what we may have been led to believe, but that doesn’t mean that this isn’t the catchiest number in the bunch and the one that will have me singing it in my head at work all day. What I think you’ll notice the more you get into the album is just how naturally this album has come out of past albums, where you can easily catch things in songs like “You Wanted It” where you’ll say “oh, this is just like I’m Only A Man” until the next line you’ll tell yourself you were just kidding because it really reminds you of “In Shallow Seas We Sail” or another album, depending on which scream, which melody, which lyric or which fraction of the music you are currently listening to. We’re getting hit with everything Emery loves to do, which could either mean that everyone will find something to love about the album or that everyone will find something to hate about the album, depending on their level of hipsterism.
I think we’re mostly getting the point by now, so I want to skip ahead to near the end with the most intriguing song to me in “I Never Got To See The West Coast”, a stripped down acoustic song that will excite those of us who love the acoustic versions of Emery’s earlier songs and the hopeful and excited feelings of a future acoustic album to possibly come out later this year. The song is an emotionally draining song that hits to the core as it deals with the idea of a kid contemplating suicide and the thoughts that haunt him. It might not be the kind of song you’d hear on a radio station that promotes “positive music”, but it should be. “Fix Me” follows in the same manner, but serves as nothing short of a worship song, a bold move for a band that plays a lot more secular venues than Christian festivals.
The softer conclusion to “We Do What We Want” just proves what we knew all along, that Emery can be anything that they can imagine themselves to be. Emery wants to be in a metalcore band? Fine. Emery wants to be in a punk rock band? Sure. Alt Rock? Okay. Screamo? If that’s still a thing. Worship? Why not? The only thing you shouldn’t hear about Emery is how they stayed inside a nice, comfortable, generic box to sell records.