First Impressions: Emery – We Do What We Want

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.


7 responses to “First Impressions: Emery – We Do What We Want

  1. Joshua Hedlund February 19, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Thanks for this. It’s definitely on my list of things to check out even though The Question is the only album I ever really got into. For me it will probably come down to the lyrics, I can only take so much melodrama and sadness (which is kinda funny that I like The Question so much, lol.)

  2. Matthew C. Alexander February 19, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Sounds like a great, possibly fan favorite type of album. I can’t wait to pick up my copy.

  3. Chris Alexander February 19, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Does the album feel like it’s too short? 10 track albums go by so fast. That’s probably going to be my only negative to this album.

  4. Tyler Hess February 20, 2011 at 1:42 am

    Joshua…you don’t like the lyrics to the other 3 albums? so far i’m really digging the lyrics in this, though with more screaming it does make it a bit more difficult to dig into them, but there are some songs with really deep lyrics that i dig

    Matthew…it’s worthy of a pre-order if you are into that sort of thing

    Chris…a little bit, but there isn’t any filler or anything…I really think the music industry is going that way in general though (like anberlin and children 18:3 last year)…ten tracks is what we’re probably gonna get…i think its a good thing personally because sometimes even with really good albums it is difficult to sit through an album for that long, unless you have a lot of time to kill. maybe we’ll get a break by there being a deluxe edition someday with extra tracks?

  5. jthejust February 20, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Is Devin on the album? If not, does his singing feel missed?

  6. Tyler Hess February 20, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    from interviews it seems that he played a very minor role in the album…you can tell the difference if you know what you’re listening for, but it isn’t harmed much by it, it’s just slightly different without the vocals being able to play off each other…i don’t think it would distract anyone from enjoying this

  7. joshuahedlund February 21, 2011 at 4:47 am

    Tyler.. well, kinda. Sometimes the lyrics have so much melancholy that I just don’t enjoy it… Even The Question I can only listen to in small doses even though I really like the music and even really like the way some of the lyrics come across. TWE I really just never got to listen to much of it, IOAM I just never really got into it musically although I appreciated their creativity or whatever, ISSWS I only vaguely remember streaming a few songs and getting the impression that they were still wading in a lot of the lyrical self-pity and I just never listened to the whole thing.

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