If you’re like me, when you encounter the term “emo-revival” stamped across the internet in 2014 you tend to get a little nauseous. Not because there’s any tendency to take offence to the genre it’s illuminating; more so because, for need to be realistic about it, the core idea of that very music never exactly disappeared. It simply became shadowed by those in the mainstream who hoped to banish the few bands that succeeded in penetrating some of its ideas into the realms of mass-consumer culture. Those same groups, might I add, also failed to understand where it even originated from originally.
Looking back I guess the issue was always with the press; The Daily Mail spearheaded the ridiculous assumption that Pop Rock/Pop Punk artists such as My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy were somehow originators of an apparently ‘new’ movement throughout the mid-2000s, or cult as they often insinuated, due most in part because of the unashamedly androgynous, semi-gothic fashion of much of its fan base. But of course such a thing required a name to inflict this societal disapproval at, and what with bands like Cursive and The Promise Ring operating with a formula that wasn’t too stretched from those facing the scrutiny, a huge mishap of a scandal quickly began to set itself in stone.
Chart Attack’s Ian Gormely provided a key example of the fallout from the period’s lapse in focus and understanding, instinctively stating last November that only now was a new generation of bands coming together under the blueprints of Emo’s original etiquette. Obviously this isn’t the whole truth; it’s only now – when the ex-media targets have either broken up or gone onto more diabolical things, and society has subsequently backed off assuming victory – that this huge swathe of music press has descended to take notice of what was so great about the genre to begin with.
Still, all arguments aside, if there’s one reason to forgive the press for any misinformation it would be for the number of exciting bands this sudden re-alignment has brought to our attention. Namely, the US outfit The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die have seen considerable success from the recent media publicity.
Of course, and as is the case with many of the new featured media spotlights, TWIABP have been kicking about longer than Emo’s sudden resurgence in the media. In fact, you would need to revert way back to 2009 to log the group’s first movements. Funny, then, how despite what were – and still remain – a formidable set of early releases rightly acclaimed amongst those with any influence in the underground, those at more popular and highly revered media institutions avoided devoting any serious attention until the genre was subsequently deemed “cool” again. But for a band known to consistently release new material, the media’s timing couldn’t have been much better: in conjunction with the onslaught of newfound exposure for their closest genre-relation, TWIABP put out their debut full-length last year and to a storming reception.
More than a year on and the now 8-piece band have just released a brand new EP, but for the sake of diverting the formula just a little the record qualifies more as a collaborative effort, drafting in the talents of spoken word artist and close friend Chris Zizzamia to carry lead vocal duties. The songs themselves for the most part sound very much like what many have come to expect from the band, with Zizzamia only sweetening the arrangement via a series of heartbreaking – yet often inspiring and certainly provocative – short stories dramatised to the music’s movement. Sounds refreshing – so then how do you explain the media’s mixed reaction?
The answer’s pretty straight-forward: spoken word doesn’t fit their manifesto. And of course by “their” I’m referring to that all-too-familiar stubborn crowd of human relics as well as the more casual yet utterly conservative newcomers, both unwilling to accept any ideas outside their station.
It seems that purists, after all the antagonising and media brutality via unnecessary bastardisations, have decided that their precious 90s scene has taken enough damage for one lifetime. In a sense, and as a genuine fan, it’s difficult not to concur at least slightly: after all, now we finally have our Emo back, why would we possibly want to chance losing it again?
But can we not admit that to repeat the same misguidance would be exceptionally difficult today? The music that distorted popular opinion initially has either folded or is at best now only a problem unto itself; the tabloid papers have exhausted their unjust condemnation; and most unforgettably, our love of those bands and records that shaped our 90s still exists – in fact in the face of distraction it’s more likely to have increased in potency. We need to understand that not every small step outside makeshift boundaries should result in the immediate banishment of offending artists from our personal advertising space. In fact it’s enabling these futile boundaries to predetermine opinion in the first place that prevents otherwise great ideas from ever being properly understood or accepted, and for that we risk disabling new growth, even that in more rewarding directions.
Listen to Between Bodies for what it is and is intended to be: an experiment and, hopefully, an experience. Love it? You’ve been helpful. Not into it? Well that’s just fine – There’s a group of eight people out in Willimantic, Connecticut with a silly band name that will probably agree with you eventually.
Between Bodies is out now on Broken World Media.