There are people who say emo like it’s a curse word. And I get that. If emo invokes thoughts of Fall Out Boy, skinny jeans, and swoop haircuts, I understand the hatred. But emo brings to my mind bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, The Promise Ring, Mineral, Braid, The Get Up Kids… You get the idea. Emo brings to mind the post-hardcore, right out of high school version of myself (before emo got MTVized).
Very few bands pull off emo the right way these days. Better Off’s first ep (as the band Friends) was a throwback to fun early 2000’s emo/pop punk. A name change was sure to bring a new focus and a new sound.
Better Off’s full-length debut is a beautifully crafted emo record. Late 90’s emo. The good kind.
Songs like The Price Is Never Right, A Fool Walks Into a Bar, Letting It In/Making It Go, and Inside with their familiar rhythms and melodies that seem welcoming. Or tracks like Sick, Sad Sons, Keeping Watch, and Next Step Is Out The Door with their punk tinged influence. Even the great, slightly off kilter rhythms in 1991 (Alive) remind me of the great emo bands of old. The album closer, Garden State of Mind with it’s upbeat verse and chorus before going into a beautiful extended instrumental outro (American Football’s Honesty, anyone?) is just the perfect way to close out this gem of a record.
When nostalgia hits, it’s nice to know that there are new bands making great records that fit in a catalog of what was so good about the late 90’s. (I Think) I’m Leaving is a great record.