Sounds like … an unlikely but brilliant pairing of post-hardcore sounds, like Underoath, Sky Eats Airplane, and He Is Legend, and influences like Dashboard Confessional, Mars Volta and Mae.
At a glance … Emery maintains the deeper emotional content that they developed on I'm Only a Man, while reverting back to the hard rock guitar driven sound of The Question, creating an impressive mix of experimentation and hooks.
Don't be fooled by the cover of Emery's new EP, showing a sinking man with his arms flailing above water. In a sink or swim industry, Emery is certainly swimming. Their fourth major release, While Broken Hearts Prevail, combines the rawness of their earlier work with the maturity of their latest feats to make their best effort yet.
When the band first broke onto the scene in 2004 with The Weak's End, they received mixed reviews. Their blend of emo and post-hardcore was interesting, but it didn't have the strength to leave a lasting impression. Since then, Emery has continued to experiment with their sound, churning out two very different, yet musically solid albums. Upon a first listen, one could say that the new EP is the culmination of all their previous work.
In typical Emery form, the opening track, "The Smile, The Face," kicks into full-gear almost instantly, barraging the listener with pounding, fast drums and heavy guitars. Lead singer Toby Morrell's clear, straight-sounding vocals cut through the wall of sound, adding clarity to the chaos. Such energy continues with tracks like "Edge of the World" and "Say the Things (You Want)." In every song, Emery displays an acute attention to musical detail without sounding too much like a jam band. There's more here than your standard punk beats and chord progressions; the band changes time signatures, swaps between singing and screaming, and creates intricate layers of music.
As you continue through the EP, it's clear Emery has abandoned the dueling vocal melodies that characterized The Question, as well as the experimental dance-pop sections in I'm Only A Man. However, they have nonetheless maintained their sense of hook, which is something that many of their contemporaries either lack or struggle to achieve. In the standout track "Edge of the World," the chorus repeats "Let's get this over, I'd like to get some sleep tonight!" The band also explores the softer-side of things with "Thoughtlife" and "Do the Things (You Want)," displaying some otherwise out-of-place yet shockingly-good acoustic guitar work.
While the lyrics are not overtly spiritual (in previous interviews, the band has indicated that they are Christians in a band, not a "Christian band") the songs do honestly and poetically examine human relationships. "Edge of the World," for example, deals with the ups and downs of relationships, as Toby Morrell sings, "My intentions were to never give myself to anyone/Look what I've done."
In any case, Emery is far from sinking here. The EP is short, both in total length and number of songs, which might irk those die hard fans who were expecting another full-length. With a history of being one of the most talented post-hardcore groups around, Emery once again makes good music sound easy.
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