Angsty guitars with awkward vocals is something I discovered via Weezer when I was a teenager. And as the angsty guitars and awkward vocals of Happiness is All the Rage kicked in to open Very Emergency, I suddenly became very aware of how much I dig that combo. So why don’t I seek more of it out? Because I’m roughly two minutes into my first experience with The Promise Ring as I type this, and I love it. This is a style of music, and a band, that I should be a whole lot more aware of.
The Deep South offers up another aspect of this kind of music that I really like, when a song writer finds poetry in the literal or mundane. It’s one thing to take something already breathtaking, or beautiful and do it justice. It’s another to start with something seemingly ordinary, and turn a phrase just right to elevate it to the point of beauty. “In the deep south of heaven, on the wavering line, where Tennessee will leave just in time. I’m writing it down, it will be different soon, you look amazing there stuck between me and the moon”. There’s something about the surface level simplicity of that verse that makes it so much more impressive than if it had been filled with fancier words and more complicated structures.
While Weezer came to mind with the opening songs, Happy Hour gives off a much more Jimmy Eat World vibe. It’s heavier and tighter than the opening songs, but never loses the slightly geeky charm of the earlier tracks.
When the distortion pedals are put away and the string section is brought out for Things Just Getting Good, Davey von Bohle’s vocals have a whole new vulnerability to them that makes it one of the most immediately attention grabbing songs on Very Emergency. But that doesn’t stop that same vulnerability shining through when things get louder and more straight forward on Living Around.
As things wrap up with Skips a Beat (Over You), Arms and Danger and All of My Everythings, The Promise Ring give a great snap shot of everything that’s so great about Very Emergency. Rock guitars, pop song writing, and vocals that are never as self aware or put on as anything in rock or pop usually is.